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Cessas in vota precesque, 
Tros, ait, Aenea, cessas ? Neque enim ante dehiscent 
Adtonita magna ora domus. — Virgil. 

''Nay I" quoth the Sybil, "Trojan 1 wilt thou spare 
The impassioned effort and the conquering prayer ? 
Nay ! not save thus those doors shall open roll, — 
That Power within them burst upon the soul?' 





Copyright, 1906, by 


All rights reserved. 


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The Plimpton Press Norwood Mass. U.S.A. 












GLOSSARY . , xiii 




III. GENIUS . . . -55 





VIII. MOTOR AUTOMATISM . . . . . . .254 


X. EPILOGUE .. . . . .340 





APPENDICES TO CHAPTER VII . . . ' . . . .400 



INDEX 453 



Nearly four years have elapsed since the first appearance of my 
Father's book " Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death." 
It cost two guineas and was published in two volumes, each of which was 
little under 700 pages in length. 

The price and dimensions of such a work made the future issue of a 
more popular edition not improbable. Indeed, my Father himself indi- 
cated briefly the lines on which an abridgment could best be made. In 
accordance with his indications I have endeavoured to keep as closely as 
possible to the original scheme and construction of the book. 

The task of abridging, however, must always be an ungrateful one. 
It is inevitable that somewhere or other I should disappoint the reader 
who, already acquainted with the unabridged edition, finds some admired 
passage curtailed in favour of others that are to him of secondary interest. 
This I cannot avoid. All I can hope to do is so to reconcile the prin- 
ciples of omission and condensation as least to do violence to the style 
while preserving as far as possible the completeness of the exposition. 

One half of each volume in the unabridged edition consists of appen- 
dices containing examples of the various kinds of phenomena discussed 
and analyzed in the text. It has been possible to reduce considerably 
the number of these cases without, I think, detracting much from the value 
of the work for the purposes of the ordinary reader. Those cases, how- 
ever, which are included in this edition are quoted in full, an abridged 
version having very little value. 

It must be remembered that the author in his preface insists that "the 
book is an exposition rather than a proof," and the remark naturally 
applies with even greater force to this abridgment. Here the cases must 
be regarded simply as illustrative of the different types of the evidence 
upon which in its entirety the argument of the book ultimately rests. 

The reader who may feel disposed to study this evidence will find 
numerous references given in the foot-notes. The cases, however, to 
which he is thus referred are scattered in many different publications, 
some of which will probably be less easy of access than the unabridged 
edition, In the many instances, therefore, where a case is quoted in the 



latter its place therein is indicated by means of a number or a number 
and letter in square brackets, thus [434 A]: these being in accordance 
with the plan of arrangement observed in the larger book. 

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Miss Alice Johnson, who very 
kindly read over the whole of the proof of this abridgment. I have 
profited largely by her advice as well as from that given me by Miss 
Jane Barlow, to whom my thanks are also due. L. H. M. 


[This unfinished preface consists of several passages written at different times 
by the author, who died on January 17th, 1901. In 1896 he arranged that the com- 
pletion of his book should be in the hands of Dr. Richard Hodgson in case of his 
death before its publication. In the meantime he had entrusted the general super- 
vision of the press work and much of the detail in marshalling the Appendices to 
Miss Alice Johnson (now Secretary of the Society for Psychical Research) , who was 
therefore associated with Dr. Hodgson also in the editorial work needed for the com- 
pletion of the book, and much the greater part of the labour involved fell to her share.] 

The book which is now at last given to the world is but a partial pres- 
entation of an ever-growing subject which I have long hoped to become 
able to treat in more adequate fashion. But as knowledge increases life 
rolls by, and I have thought it well to bring out while I can even this most 
imperfect text-book to a branch of research whose novelty and strangeness 
call urgently for some provisional systematisation, which, by suggesting 
fresh inquiries and producing further accumulation of evidence, may tend 
as speedily as possible to its own supersession. Few critics of this book 
can, I think, be more fully conscious than its author of its defects and 
its lacunae; but also few critics, I think, have yet realised the importance 
of the new facts which in some fashion the book does actually present. 

Many of these facts have already appeared in Phantasms 0} the Living ; 
many more in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research; 
but they are far indeed from having yet entered into the scientific 
consciousness of the age. In future years the wonder, I think, will be 
that their announcement was so largely left to a writer with leisure 
so scanty, and with scientific equipment so incomplete. 

Whatever value this book may possess is in great measure due to other 
minds than its actual author's. Its very existence, in the first place, 
probably depends upon the existence of the two beloved friends and 
invaluable coadjutors to whose memory I dedicate it now. 

The help derived from these departed colleagues, Henry Sidgwick 


and Edmund Gurney, although of a kind and quantity absolutely essential 
to the existence of this work, is not easy to define in all its fulness under 
the changed circumstances of to-day. There was indeed much which is 
measurable; — much of revision of previous work of my own, of col- 
laborative experiments, of original thought and discovery. Large quota- 
tions purposely introduced from Edmund Gurney indicate, although 
imperfectly, how closely interwoven our work on all these subjects 
continued to be until his death. But the benefit which I drew from the 
association went deeper still. The conditions under which this inquiry was 
undertaken were such as to emphasise the need of some intimate moral 
support. A recluse, perhaps, or an eccentric, — or a man living mainly 
with his intellectual inferiors, may find it easy to work steadily and con- 
fidently at a task which he knows that the bulk of educated men will 
ignore or despise. But this is more difficult for a man who feels manifold 
links with his kind, a man whose desire it is to live among minds equal 
or superior to his own. It is hard, I say, for such a man to disregard 
altogether the expressed or implied disapproval of those groups of weighty 
personages to whom in other matters he is accustomed to look up. 

I need not say that the attitude of the scientific world — of all the 
intellectual world — then was very much more marked than now. Even 
now I write in full consciousness of the low value commonly attached to 
inquiries of the kind which I pursue. Even now a book on such a subject 
must still expect to evoke, not only legitimate criticism of many kinds, 
but also much of that disgust and resentment which novelty and hetero- 
doxy naturally excite. But I have no wish to exalt into a deed of daring 
an enterprise which to the next generation must seem the most obvious 
thing in the world. Nihil ausi nisi vana contemnere will certainly be the 
highest compliment which what seemed to us our bold independence of 
men will receive. Yet gratitude bids me to say that however I might in 
the privacy of my own bosom have 'dared to contemn things contempt- 
ible,' I should never have ventured my amateurish acquirements on a 
publication of this scale were it not for that slow growth of confidence 
which my respect for the judgment of these two friends inspired. Their 
countenance and fellowship, which at once transformed my own share in 


the work into a delight, has made its presentation to the world appear 
as a duty. 

My thanks are due also to another colleague who has passed away, 
my brother, Dr. A. T. Myers, F.R.C.P., who helped me for many years 
in all medical points arising in the work. 

To the original furnishers of the evidence my obligations are great 
and manifest, and to the Council of the S.P.R. I also owe thanks for per- 
mission to use that evidence freely. But I must leave it to the book itself 
to indicate in fuller detail how much is owing to how many men and 
women: — how widely diffused are the work and the interest which have 
found in this book their temporary outcome and exposition. 

The book, indeed, is an exposition rather than a proof. I cannot 
summarise within my modest limits the mass of evidence already gath- 
ered together in the sixteen volumes of Proceedings and the nine volumes 
of the Journal of the S.P.R., in Phantasms of the Living and other books 
hereafter referred to, and in MS. collections. The attempt indeed would 
be quite out of place. This branch of knowledge, like others, must be 
studied carefully and in detail by those who care to understand or to 
advance it. 

What I have tried to do here is to render that knowledge more assim- 
ilable by co-ordinating it in a form as clear and intelligible as my own 
limited skill and the nature of the facts themselves have permitted. I 
have tried to give, in text and in Appendices, enough of actual evidence 
to illustrate each step in my argument: — and I have constantly referred 
the reader to places where further evidence will be found. 

In minor matters I have aimed above all things at clearness and readi- 
ness in reference. The division of the book into sections, with Appendices 
bearing the same numbers, will, it is hoped, facilitate the use both of 
syllabus and of references in general. I have even risked the appearance 
of pedantry in adding a glossary. Where many unfamiliar facts and 
ideas have to be dealt with, time is saved in the end if the writer explains 
precisely what his terms mean. 

F. W. H. MYERS. 


Note. — The words and phrases here included fall under three main heads:-— 
(i) Words common only in philosophical or medical use. 

(2) Words or phrases used in psychical research with some special significance. 

(3) A few words, distinguished by an asterisk, for which the author is himself 

Aboulia. — Loss of power of willing. 

After-image. — A retinal picture of an object seen after removing the 
gaze from the object. 

Agent. — The person who seems to initiate a telepathic transmission. 

Agraphia. — Lack of power to write words. 

Alexia or Word-blindness. — Lack of power to understand words 

Anaesthesia, or the loss of sensation generally, must be distinguished 
from analgesia, or the loss of the sense of pain alone. 

Analgesia. — Insensibility to pain. 

Aphasia. — Incapacity of coherent utterance, not caused by structural 
impairment of the vocal organs, but by lesion of the cerebral centres for 

Aphonia. — Incapacity of uttering sounds. 

Automatic. — Used of mental images arising and movements made 
without the initiation, and generally without the concurrence, of conscious 
thought and will. Sensory automatism will thus include visual and audi- 
tory hallucinations. Motor automatism will include messages written and 
words uttered without intention (automatic script, trance-utterance, etc.). 

Automnesia. — Spontaneous revival of memories of an earlier condition 
of life. 

Autoscope. — Any instrument which reveals a subliminal motor im- 
pulse or sensory impression, e.g., a divining rod, a tilting table, or a plan- 

Bilocation. — The sensation of being in two different places at once, 
namely where one's organism is, and in a place distant from it. 

Catalepsy. — " An intermittent neurosis producing inability to change 
the position of a limb, while another person can place the muscles in a 
state of flexion or contraction as he will." (Tuke's Dictionary of Psycholo- 
gical Medicine.) 

Centre of Consciousness. — The place where a percipient imagines 
himself to be. The point of view from which he seems to himself to be 
surveying some phantasmal scene. 

Chromatism. — See Secondary Sensations. 



Clair-audience. — The sensation of hearing an internal (but in some 
way veridical) voice. 

Clairvoyance (Lucidite*). — The faculty or act of perceiving, as though 
visually, with some coincidental truth, some distant scene. 

Ccenesthesia. — That consensus or agreement of many organic sensa- 
tions which is a fundamental element in our conception of personal 

Control. — This word is used of the intelligence which purports to 
communicate messages which are written or uttered by the automatist, 
sensitive or medium. 

* Cosmopathic. — Open to the access of supernormal knowledge or 

Cryptomnesia. — Submerged or subliminal memory of events forgotten 
by the supraliminal self. 

* Dextro-cerebral (opposed to * Sinistro-cerebral) of left-handed persons 
as employing preferentially the right hemisphere of the brain. 

Diathesis. — Habit, capacity, constitutional disposition or tendency. 

Dimorphism. — In crystals the property of assuming two incompatible 
forms: in plants and animals, difference of form between members of the 
same species. Used of a condition of alternating personalities, in which 
memory, character, etc., present themselves at different times in different 
forms in the same person. 

Discarnate. — Disembodied, opposed to incarnate. 

Disintegration of Personality. — Used of any condition where the sense 
of personality is not unitary and continuous : especially when secondary 
and transitory personalities intervene. 

Dynamogeny. — The increase of nervous energy by appropriate stimuli, 
often opposed to inhibition. 

Ecmnesia. — Loss of memory of a period of time. 

* Entencephalic. — On the analogy of entoptic : of sensations, etc., 
which have their origin within the brain, not in the external world. 

Eugenics. — The science of improving the race. 

Falsidical. — Of hallucinations delusive , i.e., when there is nothing 
objective to which they correspond. The correlative term to veridical. 

Glossolaly. — " Speaking with tongues," i.e., automatic utterance of 
words not belonging to any real language. 

Hallucination. — Any sensory perception which has no objective 
counterpart within the field of vision, hearing, etc., is termed a hallucination. 

Heterozsthesia. — A form of sensibility decidedly different from any of 
those which can be referred to the action of the known senses. 

Hyperboulia. — Increased power over the organism, — resembling the 
power which we call will when it is exercised over the voluntary muscles, — 
which is seen in the bodily changes effected by self-suggestion. 

Hyperesthesia. — Unusual acuteness of the senses. 

Hypermnesia. — "Over-activity of the memory; a condition in which 
past acts, feelings, or ideas are brought vividly to the mind, which, in its 
normal condition, has wholly lost the remembrance of them." (Tuke's 


* Hyperpromethia. — Supernormal power of foresight. 

Hypnagogic. — Illusions hypnagogiques (Maury) are the vivid illu- 
sions of sight or sound — "faces in the dark," etc. — which sometimes 
accompany the oncoming of sleep. To similar illusions accompanying 
the departure of sleep, as when a dream-figure persists for a few moments 
into waking life, I have given the name * hypnopompic. 

Hypnogenous zones. — Regions by pressure on which hypnosis is 
induced in some hysterical persons. 

* Hypnopompic. — See Hypnagogic. 

Hysteria. — "A disordered condition of the nervous system, the 
anatomical seat and nature of which are unknown to medical science, 
but of which the symptoms consist in well-marked and very varied dis- 
turbances of nerve-function" (Ency. Brit.). Hysterical affections are not 
dependent on any discoverable lesion. 

Hysterogenous zones. — Points or tracts on the skin of a hysterical 
person, pressure on which will induce a hysterical attack. 

Ideational. — Used of impressions which display some distinct notion, 
but not of sensory nature. 

Induced. — Of hallucinations, etc., intentionally produced. 

Levitation. — A raising of objects from the ground by supposed super- 
normal means; especially of living persons. 

Medium. — A person through whom communication is deemed to be 
carried on between living men and spirits of the departed. It is often 
better replaced by automatist or sensitive. 

Message. — Used for any communication, not necessarily verbal, from 
one to another stratum of the automatist 's personality, or from an external 
intelligence to the automatist's mind. 

Metallcesthesia. — A form of sensibility alleged to exist which enables 
some hypnotised or hysterical subjects to discriminate between the contacts 
of various metals by sensations not derived from their ordinary properties 
of weight, etc. 

Metastasis. — Change of the seat of a bodily function from one place 
(e.g., brain-centre) to another. 

*Metetherial. — That which appears to lie after or beyond the ether: 
the metetherial environment denotes the spiritual or transcendental world 
in which the soul may be supposed to exist. 

* Methectic. — Of communications between one stratum of a man's 
intelligence and another. 

Mirror-writing {ecriture renverste, Spiegel-schrijt). — Writing so in- 
verted, or, more exactly, perverted, as to resemble writing reflected in a 

Mnemonic chain. — A continuous series of memories, especially when 
the continuity persists after an interruption. 

Motor. — Used of an impulse to action not carrying with it any definite 
idea or sensory impression. 

Negative hallucination or systematised anaesthesia. — Signifies the con- 
dition of an entranced subject who, as the result of a suggestion, is unable 
to perceive some object or to hear some sound, etc. 


Number forms. — See Secondary sensations. 

Objectify. — To externalize a phantom as if it were a material object; 
to see it as a part of the waking world. 
* * Panmnesia. — A potential recollection of all impressions. 

Paresthesia. — Erroneous or morbid sensation. 

Paramnesia. — All forms of erroneous memory. 

Paraphasia. — The erroneous and involuntary use of one word for 

Percipient. — The correlative term to Agent ; the person on whose 
mind the telepathic impact falls; or, more generally, the person who 
perceives any motor or sensory impression. 

Phantasm and Phantom. — Phantasm and phantom are, of course, 
mere variants of the same word; but since phantom has become generally 
restricted to visual hallucinations, it is convenient to take phantasm to 
cover a wider range, and to signify any hallucinatory sensory impression, 
whatever sense — whether sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, or diffused 
sensibility — may happen to be affected. 

Phantasmo genetic centre. — A point in space apparently modified by 
a spirit in such a way that persons present near it perceive a phantasm. 

Phobies. — Irrational restricting or disabling preoccupations or fears ; 
e.g., agoraphobia, fear of open spaces. 

Photism. — See Secondary sensations. 

Point de replre. — Guiding mark. Used of some (generally inconspic- 
uous) real object which a hallucinated subject sometimes sees as the nucleus 
of his hallucination, and the movements of which suggest corresponding 
movements of the hallucinatory object. 

Polyzoism. — The property, in a complex organism, of being composed 
of minor and quasi-independent organisms. This is sometimes called 
" colonial constitution," from animal colonies. 

Possession. — A developed form of motor automatism, in which the 
automatist's own personality disappears for a time, while there appears 
to be a more or less complete substitution of personality, writing or speech 
being given by another spirit through the entranced organism. 

Post-hypnotic. — Used of a suggestion given during the hypnotic trance, 
but intended to operate after that trance has ceased. 

Precognition. — Knowledge of impending events supernormally ac- 

Premonition. — A supernormal indication of any kind of event still in 
the future. 

* Preversion. — A tendency to characteristics assumed to lie at a 
further point of the evolutionary progress of a species than has yet been 
reached; opposed to reversion. 

* Promnesia. — The paradoxical sensation of recollecting a scene 
which is only now occurring for the first time; the sense of the deja vu. 

* Psychorrhagy. — A special idiosyncrasy which tends to make the 
phantasm of a person easily perceptible; the breaking loose of a psychical 
element, definable mainly by its power of producing a phantasm, perceptible 
by one or more persons, in some portion of space. 


* Psychorrhagic diathesis. — A habit or capacity of detaching some 
psychical element, involuntarily and without purpose, in such a manner 
as to produce a phantasm. 

Psycho-therapeutics. — " Treatment of disease by the influence of the 
mind on the body." (Tuke's Diet.) 

Reciprocal. — Used of cases where there is both agency and percipience 
at each end of the telepathic chain, so that A perceives P, and P perceives 
A also, 

* Retrocognition. — Knowledge of the past, supernormally acquired. 
Secondary personality. — It sometimes happens, as the result of shock, 

disease, or unknown causes, that an individual experiences an altera- 
tion of memory and character, amounting to a change of personality, 
vhich generally seems to have come on during sleep. The new personality 
is in that case termed secondary, in distinction to the original, or primary, 

Secondary sensations (Secunddrempfindungen, audition colorie, sound- 
seeing, syncesthesia, etc.). — With some persons every sensation of one 
type is accompanied by a sensation of another type; as for instance, a 
special sound may be accompanied by a special sensation of colour or 
light {chromatisms or photisms). This phenomenon is analogous to that 
of number-forms, — a kind of diagrammatic mental picture which accom- 
panies the conception of a progression of numbers. See Galton's Inquiries 
into Human Faculty. 

Shell-hearing. — The induction of hallucinatory voices, etc., by listening 
to a shell. Analogous to crystal-gazing. 

Stigmatisation. — The production of blisters or other cutaneous changes 
on the hands, feet, or elsewhere, by suggestion or self-suggestion. 

Subliminal. — Of thoughts, feelings, etc., lying beneath the ordinary 
threshold (limen) of consciousness, as opposed to supraliminal, lying above 
the threshold. 

Suggestion. — The process of effectively impressing upon the subliminal 
intelligence the wishes of some other person. Self-suggestion means a 
suggestion conveyed by the subject himself from one stratum of his 
personality to another, without external intervention. 

* Supernormal. — Of a faculty or phenomenon which transcends ordi- 
nary experience. Used in preference to the word supernatural, as not 
assuming that there is anything outside nature or any arbitrary interference 
with natural law. 

Supraliminal. — See Subliminal. 

Syncesthesia. — See Secondary Sensations. 

Synergy. — A number of actions correlated together, or combined into 
a group. 

Telekinesis. — Used of alleged supernormal movements of objects, not 
due to any known force. 

^Telepathy. — The communication of impressions of any kind from 
one mind to another, independently of the recognised channels of 

* Telcesthesia. — Any direct sensation or perception of objects or con- 


ditions independently of the recognised channels of sense, and also under 
such circumstances that no known mind external to the percipient's can 
be suggested as the source of the knowledge thus gained. 

* Telergy. — The force exercised by the mind of an agent in impressing 
a percipient, — involving a direct influence of the extraneous spirit on 
the brain or organism of the percipient. 

Veridical. — Of hallucinations, when they correspond to real events 
happening elsewhere and unknown to the percipient. 


Maior agit deus, atque opera in maiora remittit. 

— Virgil. 

In the long story of man's endeavours to understand his own environ- 
ment and to govern his own fates, there is one gap or omission so singular 
that, however we may afterwards contrive to explain the fact, its simple 
statement has the air of a paradox. Yet it is strictly true to say that man 
has never yet applied to the problems which most profoundly concern him 
those methods of inquiry which in attacking all other problems he has 
found the most efficacious. 

The question for man most momentous of all is whether or no he has 
an immortal soul; or — to avoid the word immortal, which belongs to the 
realm of infinities — whether or no his personality involves any element 
which can survive bodily death. In this direction have always lain the 
gravest fears, the farthest-reaching hopes, which could either oppress or 
stimulate mortal minds. 

On the other hand, the method which our race has found most effective 
in acquiring knowledge is by this time familiar to all men. It is the method 
of modern Science — that process which consists in an interrogation of 
Nature entirely dispassionate, patient, systematic; such careful experiment 
and cumulative record as can often elicit from her slightest indications 
her deepest truths. That method is now dominant throughout the civi- 
lised world; and although in many directions experiments may be difficult 
and dubious, facts rare and elusive, Science works slowly on and bides 
her time, — refusing to fall back upon tradition or to launch into specu- 
lation, merely because strait is the gate which leads to valid discovery, 
indisputable truth. 

I say, then, that this method has never yet been applied to the all- 
important problem of the existence, the powers, the destiny of the human 

Nor is this strange omission due to any general belief that the problem 


is in its nature incapable of solution by any observation whatever which 
mankind could make. That resolutely agnostic view — I may almost 
say that scientific superstition — "ignoramus et ignorabimus" — is no 
doubt held at the present date by many learned minds. But it has never 
been the creed, nor is it now the creed, of the human race generally. In 
most civilised countries there has been for nearly two thousand years a 
distinct belief that survival has actually been proved by certain phenomena 
observed at a given date in Palestine. And beyond the Christian pale — 
whether through reason, instinct, or superstition — it has ever been com- 
monly held that ghostly phenomena of one kind or another exist to testify 
to a life beyond the life we know. 

But, nevertheless, neither those who believe on vague grounds nor 
those who believe on definite grounds that the question might possibly be 
solved, or has actually been solved, by human observation of objective 
facts, have hitherto made any serious attempt to connect and correlate that 
belief with the general scheme of belief for which Science already vouches. 
They have not sought for fresh corroborative instances, for analogies, for 
explanations ; rather they have kept their convictions on these fundamental 
matters in a separate and sealed compartment of their minds, a compart- 
ment consecrated to religion or to superstition, but not to observation or 
to experiment. 

It is my object in the present work — as it has from the first been the 
object of the Society for Psychical Research, on whose behalf most of the 
evidence here set forth has been collected, — to do what can be done to 
break down that artificial wall of demarcation which has thus far excluded 
from scientific treatment precisely the problems which stand in most 
need of all the aids to discovery which such treatment can afford. 

Yet let me first explain that by the word "scientific " I signify an author- 
ity to which I submit myself — not a standard which I claim to attain. 
Any science of which I can here speak as possible must be a nascent science 
— not such as one of those vast systems of connected knowledge which 
thousands of experts now steadily push forward in laboratories in every 
land — but such as each one of those great sciences was in its dim and 
poor beginning, when a few monks groped among the properties of "the 
noble metals," or a few Chaldean shepherds outwatched the setting stars. 

What I am able to insist upon is the mere Socratic rudiment of these 
organisms of exact thought — the first axiomatic prerequisite of any valid 
progress. My one contention is that in the discussion of the deeper prob- 
lems of man's nature and destiny there ought to be exactly the same open- 
ness of mind, exactly the same diligence in the search for objective evidence 


of any kind, exactly the same critical analysis of results, as is habitually 
shown, for instance, in the discussion of the nature and destiny of the 
planet upon which man now moves. 

Obvious truism although this statement may at first seem, it will pre- 
sently be found, I think, that those who subscribe to it are in fact com- 
mitting themselves to inquiries of a wider and stranger type than any to 
which they are accustomed; — are stepping outside certain narrow limits 
within which, by ancient convention, disputants on either side of these 
questions are commonly confined. 

A brief recall to memory of certain familiar historical facts will serve 
to make my meaning clearer. Let us consider how it has come about 
that, whereas the problem of man's survival of death is by most persons 
regarded as a problem in its nature soluble by sufficient evidence, and 
whereas to many persons the traditional evidence commonly adduced 
appears insufficient, — nevertheless no serious effort has been made on 
either side to discover whether other and more recent evidence can or 
cannot be brought forward. 

A certain broad answer to this inquiry, although it cannot be said to 
be at all points familiar, is not in reality far to seek. It is an answer which 
would seem strange indeed to some visitant from a planet peopled wholly 
by scientific minds. Yet among a race like our own, concerned first and 
primarily to live and work with thoughts undistracted from immediate 
needs, the answer is natural enough. For the fact simply is that the 
intimate importance of this central problem has barred the way to its 
methodical, its scientific solution. 

There are some beliefs for which mankind cannot afford to wait. "What 
must I do to be saved?" is a question quite otherwise urgent than the 
cause of the tides or the meaning of the marks on the moon. Men must 
settle roughly somehow what it is that from the Unseen World they have 
reason to fear or to hope. Beliefs grow up in direct response to this need 
of belief; in order to support themselves they claim unique sanction; and 
thus along with these specific beliefs grows also the general habit of re- 
garding matters that concern that Unseen World as somehow tabooed or 
segregated from ordinary observation or inquiry. 

Let us pass from generalities to the actual history of Western civilisa- 
tion. In an age when scattered ritual, local faiths — tribal solutions of 
cosmic problems — were destroying each other by mere contact and fusion, 
an event occurred which in the brief record of man's still incipient civilisa- 
tion may be regarded as unique. A life was lived in which the loftiest 
response which man's need of moral guidance had ever received was 


corroborated by phenomena which have been widely regarded as convin- 
cingly miraculous, and which are said to have culminated in a Resurrection 
from the dead. To those phenomena or to that Resurrection it would at 
this point be illegitimate for me to refer in defence of my argument. I have 
appealed to Science, and to Science I must go; — in the sense that it would 
be unfair for me to claim support from that which Science in her strictness 
can set aside as the tradition of a pre-scientific age. Yet this one great 
tradition, as we know, has, as a fact, won the adhesion and reverence of the 
great majority of European minds. The complex results which followed 
from this triumph of Christianity have been discussed by many historians. 
But one result which here appears to us in a new light was this — that the 
Christian religion, the Christian Church, became for Europe the accredited 
representative and guardian of all phenomena bearing upon the World 
Unseen. So long as Christianity stood dominant, all phenomena which 
seemed to transcend experience were absorbed in her realm — were ac- 
counted as minor indications of the activity of her angels or of her fiends. 
And when Christianity was seriously attacked, these minor manifestations 
passed unconsidered. The priests thought it safest to defend their own 
traditions, their own intuitions, without going afield in search of indepen- 
dent evidence of a spiritual world. Their assailants kept their powder and 
shot for the orthodox ramparts, ignoring any isolated strongholds which 
formed no part of the main line of defence. 

Meantime, indeed, the laws of Nature held their wonted way. As 
ever, that which the years had once brought they brought again; and every 
here and there some marvel, liker to the old stories than any one cared to 
assert, cropped up between superstition on the one hand and contemptuous 
indifference on the other. Witchcraft, Swedenborgianism, Mesmerism, 
Spiritism — these especially, amid many minor phenomena, stood out in 
turn as precursory of the inevitable wider inquiry. A very few words on 
each of these four movements may suffice here to show their connection 
with my present theme. 

Witchcraft. — The lesson which witchcraft teaches with regard to the 
validity of human testimony is the more remarkable because it was so long 
and so completely misunderstood. The belief in witches long passed — 
as well it might — as the culminant example of human ignorance and folly ; 
and in so comparatively recent a book as Mr. Lecky's "History of Ration- 
alism," the sudden decline of this popular conviction, without argument 
or disapproval, is used to illustrate the irresistible melting away of error 
and falsity in the " intellectual climate" of a wiser age. Since about 1880, 
however, when French experiments especially had afforded conspicuous 


examples of what a hysterical woman could come to believe under sugges- 
tion from others or from herself, it has begun to be felt that the phenomena 
of witchcraft were very much what the phenomena of the Salpetriere 
would seem to be to the patients themselves, if left alone in the hospital 
without a medical staff. And in Phantasms of the Living, Edmund Gur- 
ney, after subjecting the literature of witchcraft to a more careful analysis 
than any one till then had thought it worth while to apply, was able to 
show that practically all recorded first-hand depositions (made apart 
from torture) in the long story of witchcraft may quite possibly have been 
true, to the best belief of the deponents ; true, that is to say, as representing 
the conviction of sane (though often hysterical) persons, who merely made 
the almost inevitable mistake of confusing self-suggested hallucinations 
with waking fact. Nay, even the insensible spots on the witches were 
no doubt really anaesthetic — involved a first discovery of a now familiar 
clinical symptom — the zones analgesiques of the patients of Pitres or 
Charcot. Witchcraft, in fact, was a gigantic, a cruel psychological and 
pathological experiment conducted by inquisitors upon hysteria; but it 
was conducted in the dark, and when the barbarous explanation dropped 
out of credence much of possible discovery was submerged as well. 

Mesmer. — Again, the latent possibilities of " suggestion," — though 
not yet under that name, and mingled with who knows what else ? — broke 
forth into a blaze in the movement headed by Mesmer; — at once dis- 
coverer and charlatan. Again the age was unripe, and scientific opposi- 
tion, although not so formidable as the religious opposition which had 
sent witches to the stake, was yet strong enough to check for the second 
time the struggling science. Hardly till our own generation — hardly even 
now — has a third effort found better acceptance, and hypnotism and 
psycho-therapeutics, in which every well-attested fact of witchcraft or of 
mesmerism finds, if not its explanation, at least its parallel, are establishing 
themselves as a recognised and advancing method of relieving human ills. 

This brief sketch of the development as it were by successive impulses, 
under strong disbelief and discouragement, of a group of mental tenden- 
cies, faculties, or sensibilities now recognised as truly existing and as often 
salutary, is closely paralleled by the development, under similar difficulties, 
of another group of faculties or sensibilities, whose existence is still dis- 
puted, but which if firmly established may prove to be of even greater 
moment for mankind. 

At no time known to us, whether before or since the Christian era, has 
the series of trance-manifestations, — of supposed communications with a 
supernal world, — entirely ceased. Sometimes, as in the days of St. 


Theresa, such trance or ecstasy has been, one may say, the central or cul- 
minant fact in the Christian world. Of these experiences I must not here 
treat. The evidence for them is largely of a subjective type, and they 
may belong more fitly to some future discussion as to the amount of con- 
fidence due to the interpretation given by entranced persons to their own 

But in the midst of this long series, and in full analogy to many minor 
cases, occurs the exceptional trance-history of Emmanuel Swedenborg. 
In this case, as is well known, there appears to have been excellent objective 
evidence both of clairvoyance or telaesthesia 1 and of communciation with 
departed persons ; — and we can only regret that the philosopher Kant, 
who satisfied himself of some part of Swedenborg's supernormal 2 gift, did 
not press further an inquiry surpassed in importance by none of those 
upon which his master-mind was engaged. Apart, however, from these 
objective evidences, the mere subject-matter of Swedenborg's trance- 
revelations was enough to claim respectful attention. I cannot here 
discuss the strange mixture which they present of slavish literalism with 
exalted speculation, of pedantic orthodoxy with physical and moral insight 
far beyond the level of that age. It is enough to say here that even as 
Socrates called down philosophy from heaven to earth, so in a somewhat 
different sense it was Swedenborg who called up philosophy again from 
earth to heaven; — who originated the notion of science in the spiritual 
world, as earnestly, though not so persuasively, as Socrates originated 
the idea of science in this world which we seem to know. It was to Sweden- 
borg first that that unseen world appeared before all things as a realm of 
law; a region not of mere emotional vagueness or stagnancy of adoration, 
but of definite progress according to definite relations of cause and effect, 
resulting from structural laws of spiritual existence and intercourse which 
we may in time learn partially to apprehend. For my own part I regard 
Swedenborg, — not, assuredly, as an inspired teacher, nor even as a trust- 

1 See glossary. 

2 1 have ventured to coin the word "supernormal" to be applied to phenomena 
which are beyond what usually happens — beyond, that is, in the sense of suggesting 
unknown psychical laws. It is thus formed on the analogy of abnormal. When we 
speak of an abnormal phenomenon we do not mean one which contravenes natural 
laws, but one which exhibits them in an unusual or inexplicable form. Similarly by a 
supernormal phenomenon I mean, not one which overrides natural laws, for I believe 
no such phenomenon to exist, but one which exhibits the action of laws higher, in a 
psychical aspect, than are discerned in action in everyday life. By higher (either in a 
psychical or physiological sense) I mean "apparently belonging to a more advanced 
stage of evolution," 


worthy interpreter of his own experiences, — but yet as a true and early 
precursor of that great inquiry which it is our present object to advance. 

The next pioneer — fortunately still amongst us — whom I must 
mention even in this summary notice, is the celebrated physicist and 
chemist, Sir W. Crookes. Just as Swedenborg was the first leading man 
of science who distinctly conceived of the spiritual world as a world of 
law, so was Sir W. Crookes the first leading man of science who seriously 
endeavoured to test the alleged mutual influence and interpenetration of 
the spiritual world and our own by experiments of scientific precision. 1 
Beyond the establishment of certain supernormal facts Crookes declined 
to go. But a large group of persons have founded upon these and similar 
facts a scheme of belief known as Modern Spiritualism, or Spiritism. 
Later chapters in this book will show how much I owe to certain observa- 
tions made by members of this group — how often my own conclusions 
concur with conclusions at which they have previously arrived. And 
yet this work of mine is in large measure a critical attack upon the main 
Spiritist position, as held, say, by Mr. A. R. Wallace, its most eminent 
living supporter, — the belief, namely, that all or almost all supernormal 
phenomena are due to the action of spirits of the dead. By far the larger 
proportion, as I hold, are due to the action of the still embodied spirit of 
the agent or percipient himself. Apart from speculative differences, 
moreover, I altogether dissent from the conversion into a sectarian creed 
of what I hold should be a branch of scientific inquiry, growing naturally 
out of our existing knowledge. It is, I believe, largely to this temper of 
uncritical acceptance, degenerating often into blind credulity, that we 
must refer the lack of progress in Spiritualistic literature, and the encour- 
agement which has often been bestowed upon manifest fraud, — so often, 
indeed, as to create among scientific men a strong indisposition to the 
study of phenomena recorded or advocated in a tone so alien from 

I know not how much of originality or importance may be attributed 
by subsequent students of the subject to the step next in order in this series 
of approximations. To those immediately concerned, the feeling of a 
new departure was inevitably given by the very smallness of the support 

1 Other savants of eminence — the great name of Alfred Russel Wallace will occur 
to all — had also satisfied themselves of the reality of these strange phenomena; but 
they had not tested or demonstrated that reality with equal care. I am not able in this 
brief sketch to allude to distinguished men of earlier date — Richard Glanvil, John 
Wesley, Samuel Johnson, etc., who discerned the importance of phenomena which 
they had no adequate means of investigating. 


which they for a long time received, and by the difficulty which they 
found in making their point of view intelligible to the scientific, to the 
religious, or even to the spiritualistic world. In about 1873 — at the 
crest, as one may say, of perhaps the highest wave of materialism which 
has ever swept over these shores — it became the conviction of a small 
group of Cambridge friends that the deep questions thus at issue must be 
fought out in a way more thorough than the champions either of religion 
or of materialism had yet suggested. Our attitudes of mind were in some 
ways different ; but to myself, at least, it seemed that no adequate attempt 
had yet been made even to determine whether anything could be learnt as 
to an unseen world or no; for that if anything were knowable about such a 
world in such fashion that Science could adopt and maintain that know- 
ledge, it must be discovered by no analysis of tradition, and by no manipu- 
lation of metaphysics, but simply by experiment and observation; — simply 
by the application to phenomena within us and around us of precisely 
the same methods of deliberate, dispassionate, exact inquiry which have 
built up our actual knowledge of the world which we can touch and see. 
I can hardly even now guess to how many of my readers this will seem 
a truism, and to how many a paradox. Truism or paradox, such a thought 
suggested a kind of effort, which, so far as we could discover, had never 
yet been made. For what seemed needful was an inquiry of quite other 
scope than the mere analysis of historical documents, or of the origines 
of any alleged revelation in the past. It must be an inquiry resting prima- 
rily, as all scientific inquiries in the stricter sense now must rest, upon 
objective facts actually observable, upon experiments which we can repeat 
to-day, and which we may hope to carry further to-morrow. It must 
be an inquiry based, to use an old term, on the unif ormitarian hypothesis ; 
on the presumption, that is to say, that if a spiritual world exists, and if 
that world has at any epoch been manifest or even discoverable, then it ought 
to be manifest or discoverable now. 

It was from this side, and from these general considerations, that the 
group with which I have worked approached the subject. Our methods, 
our canons, were all to make. In those early days we were more devoid 
of precedents, of guidance, even of criticism that went beyond mere ex- 
pressions of contempt, than is now readily conceived. Seeking evidence 
as best we could — collecting round us a small group of persons willing to 
help in that quest for residual phenomena in the nature and experience of 
man — we were at last fortunate enough to discover a convergence of ex- 
perimental and of spontaneous evidence upon one definite and important 
point. We were led to believe that there was truth in a thesis which at 


least since Swedenborg and the early mesmerists had been repeatedly, but 
cursorily and ineffectually, presented to mankind — the thesis that a com- 
munication can take place from mind to mind without the agency of the 
recognised organs of sense. We found that this agency, discernible even 
on trivial occasions by suitable experiment, seemed to connect itself with 
an agency more intense, or at any rate more recognisable, which operated 
at moments of crisis or at the hour of death. Edmund Gurney — the 
invaluable collaborator and friend whose loss in 1888 was our heaviest 
discouragement — set forth this evidence in a large work, Phantasms of the 
Living, in whose preparation Mr. Podmore and I took a minor part. The 
fifteen years which have elapsed since the publication of this book in 1886 
have added to the evidence on which Gurney relied, and have shown (I 
venture to say) the general soundness of the canons of evidence and the 
lines of argument which it was his task to shape and to employ. 1 

Of fundamental importance, indeed, is this doctrine of telepathy — 
the first law, may one not say ? — laid open to man's discovery, which, in 
my view at least, while operating in the material, is itself a law of the 
spiritual or metetherial world. In the course of this work it will be my 
task to show in many connections how far-reaching are the implications of 
this direct and supersensory communion of mind with mind. Among 
those implications none can be more momentous than the light thrown by 
this discovery upon man's intimate nature and possible survival of death. 

We gradually discovered that the accounts of apparitions at the moment 
of death — testifying to a supersensory communication between the dying 
man and the friend who sees him — led on without perceptible break to 
apparitions occurring after the death of the person seen, but while that 
death was yet unknown to the percipient, and thus apparently due, not to 
mere brooding memory, but to a continued action of that departed spirit. 
The task next incumbent on us therefore seemed plainly to be the collec- 
tion and analysis of evidence of this and other types, pointing directly to 
the survival of man's spirit. But after pursuing this task for some years I 
felt that in reality the step from the action of embodied to the action of 
disembodied spirits would still seem too sudden if taken in this direct 
way. So far, indeed, as the evidence from apparitions went, the series 
seemed continuous from phantasms of the living to phantasms of the dead. 
But the whole mass of evidence prima facie pointing to man's survival was 

1 The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882, Professor W. F. Barrett 
taking a leading part in its promotion. Henry Sidgwick was its first President, and 
Edmund Gurney was its first Honorary Secretary — he and I being joint Honorary 
Secretaries of its Literary Committee, whose business was the collection of evidence. 


of a much more complex kind. It consisted largely, for example, in 
written or spoken utterances, coming through the hand or voice of living 
men, but claiming to proceed from a disembodied source. To these 
utterances, as a whole, no satisfactory criterion had ever been applied. 

In considering cases of this kind, then, it became gradually plain to 
me that before we could safely mark off any group of manifestations as 
definitely implying an influence from beyond the grave, there was need of 
a more searching review of the capacities of man's incarnate personality 
than psychologists unfamiliar with this new evidence had thought it worth 
their while to undertake. 

It was only slowly, and as it were of necessity, that I embarked on a 
task which needed for its proper accomplishment a knowledge and training 
far beyond what I could claim. The very inadequate sketch which has 
resulted from my efforts is even in its author's view no more than pre- 
paratory and precursive to the fuller and sounder treatment of the same 
subject which I doubt not that the new century will receive from more 
competent hands. The truest success of this book will lie in its rapid 
supersession by a better. For this will show that at least I have not erred 
in supposing that a serious treatise on these topics is nothing else than 
the inevitable complement and conclusion of the slow process by which 
man has brought under the domain of science every group of attainable 
phenomena in turn — every group save this. 

Let me then without further preamble embark upon that somewhat 
detailed survey of human faculty, as manifested during various phases 
of human personality, which is needful in order to throw fresh light on 
these unfamiliar themes. My discussion, I may say at once, will avoid 
metaphysics as carefully as it will avoid theology. I avoid theology, as 
already explained, because I consider that in arguments founded upon 
experiment and observation I have no right to appeal for support to tradi- 
tional or subjective considerations, however important. For somewhat 
similar reasons I do not desire to introduce the idea of personality with 
any historical resume of the philosophical opinions which have been held 
by various thinkers in the past, nor myself to speculate on matters lying 
beyond the possible field of objective proof. I shall merely for the sake of 
clearness begin by the briefest possible statement of two views of human 
personality which cannot be ignored, namely, the old-fashioned or com- 
mon-sense view thereof, which is still held by the mass of mankind, and 
the newer view of experimental psychology, bringing out that composite 
or "colonial" character which on a close examination every personality 
of men or animals is seen to wear. 


The following passage, taken from a work once of much note, Reid's 
"Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man," expresses the simple primd 
jacie view with care and precision, yet with no marked impress of any one 
philosophical school: 

The conviction which every man has of his identity, as far back as 
his memory reaches, needs no aid of philosophy to strengthen it; and no 
philosophy can weaken it without first producing some degree of in- 
sanity. . . . My personal identity, therefore, implies the continued exist- 
ence of that indivisible thing which I call myself. Whatever this self 
may be, it is something which thinks, and deliberates, and resolves, and 
acts, and suffers. I am not thought, I am not action, I am not feeling; 
I am something that thinks, and acts, and suffers. My thoughts and 
actions and feelings change every moment; they have no continued, but 
a successive existence; but that self or /, to which they belong, is perma- 
nent, and has the same relation to all succeeding thoughts, actions, and 
feelings which I call mine. . . . The identity of a person is a perfect 
identity; wherever it is real it admits of no degrees; and it is impossible 
that a person should be in part the same and in part different, because 
a person is & monad, and is not divisible into parts. Identity, when ap- 
plied to persons, has no ambiguity, and admits not of degrees, or of more 
and less. It is the foundation of all rights and obligations, and of all 
accountableness; and the notion of it is fixed and precise. 

Contrast with this the passage with which M. Ribot concludes his 
essay on "Les Maladies de la Personnalite." 

It is the organism, with the brain, its supreme representative, which 
constitutes the real personality; comprising in itself the remains of all 
that we have been and the possibilities of all that we shall be. The whole 
individual character is there inscribed, with its active and passive apti- 
tudes, its sympathies and antipathies, its genius, its talent or its stupidity, 
its virtues and its vices, its torpor or its activity. The part thereof which 
emerges into consciousness is little compared with what remains buried, 
but operative nevertheless. The conscious personality is never more 
than a small fraction of the psychical personality. The unity of the 
Ego is not therefore the unity of a single entity diffusing itself among 
multiple phenomena; it is the co-ordmation of a certain number of states 
perpetually renascent, and having for their sole common basis the vague 
feeling of our body. This unity does not diffuse itself downwards, but 
is aggregated by ascent from below; it is not an initial but a terminal point. 

Does then this perfect unity really exist ? In the rigorous, the mathe- 
matical sense, assuredly it does not. In a relative sense it is met with, 
— rarely and for a moment. When a good marksman takes aim, or a 
skilful surgeon operates, his whole body and mind converge towards a 
single act. But note the result; under those conditions the sentiment 
of real personality disappears, for the conscious individual is simplified 


into a single idea, and the personal sentiment is excluded by the com- 
plete unification of consciousness. We thus return by another route to 
the same conclusion; the Self is a co-ordination. It oscillates between 
two extremes at each of which it ceases to exist; — absolute unity and 
absolute incoherence. 

The last word of all this is that since the consensus of consciousness 
is subordinated to the consensus of the organism, the problem of the 
unity of the Ego is in its ultimate form a problem of Biology. Let Biology 
explain, . if it can, the genesis of organisms and the solidarity of their 
constituent parts. The psychological explanation must needs follow on 
the same track. 

Here, then, we have two clear and definite views, — supported, the 
one by our inmost consciousness, the other by unanswerable observation 
and inference, — yet apparently incompatible the one with the other. 
And in fact by most writers they have been felt and acknowledged to be 
even hopelessly incompatible. The supporters of the view that "The Self 
is a co-ordination," — and this, I need hardly say, is now the view preva- 
lent among experimental psychologists, — have frankly given up any 
notion of an underlying unity, — of a life independent of the organism, — 
in a word, of a human soul. The supporters of the unity of the Ego, on 
the other hand, if they have not been able to be equally explicit in denying 
the opposite view, have made up for this by the thorough-going way in 
which they have ignored it. I know of no source from which valid help 
has been offered towards the reconcilement of the two opposing systems 
in a profounder synthesis. If I believe — as I do believe — that in the 
present work some help in this direction is actually given, this certainly 
does not mean that I suppose myself capable of stitching the threadbare 
metaphysical arguments into a more stable fabric. It simply means that 
certain fresh evidence can now be adduced, which has the effect of showing 
the case on each side in a novel light ; — nay, even of closing the immediate 
controversy by a judgment more decisively in favour of both parties than 
either could have expected. On the one side, and in favour of the co- 
ordinators, — all their analysis of the Self into its constituent elements, 
all that they urge of positive observation, of objective experiment, must — 
as I shall maintain on the strength of the new facts which I shall adduce 
— be unreservedly conceded. Let them push their analysis as far as they 
like, — let them get down, if they can, to those ultimate infinitesimal 
psychical elements from which is upbuilt the complex, the composite, the 
"colonial" structure and constitution of man. All this may well be valid 
and important work. It is only on their negative side that the conclusions 
of this school need a complete overhauling. Deeper, bolder inquiry along 


their own line shows that they have erred when they asserted that analysis 
showed no trace of faculty beyond such as the life of earth — as they con- 
ceive it — could foster, or the environment of earth employ. For in reality 
analysis shows traces of faculty which this material or planetary life could 
not have called into being, and whose exercise even here and now involves 
and necessitates the existence of a spiritual world. 

On the other side, and in favour of the partisans of the unity of the 
Ego, the effect of the new evidence is to raise their claim to a far higher 
ground, and to substantiate it for the first time with the strongest pre- 
sumptive proof which can be imagined for it ; — a proof, namely, that the 
Ego can and does survive — not only the minor disintegrations which 
affect it during earth-life — but the crowning disintegration of bodily death. 
In view of this unhoped-for ratification of their highest dream, they may 
be more than content to surrender as untenable the far narrower concep- 
tion of the unitary Self which was all that "common-sense philosophies " 
had ventured to claim. The " conscious Self" of each of us, as we call it, 
— the empirical, the supraliminal Self, as I should prefer to say, — does 
not comprise the whole of the consciousness or of the faculty within us. 
There exists a more comprehensive consciousness, a profounder faculty, 
which for the most part remains potential only so far as regards the life of 
earth, but from which the consciousness and the faculty of earth-life are 
mere selections, and which reasserts itself in its plenitude after the libera- 
ting change of death. 

Towards this conclusion, which assumed for me something like its 
present shape some fourteen years since, 1 a long series of tentative specu- 
lations, based on gradually accruing evidence, has slowly conducted me. 
The conception is one which has hitherto been regarded as purely mys- 
tical; and if I endeavour to plant it upon a scientific basis I certainly shall 
not succeed in stating it in its final terms or in supporting it with the best 
arguments which longer experience will suggest. Its validity, indeed, 
will be impressed — if at all — upon the reader only by the successive 
study of the various kinds of evidence to which this book will refer him. 

Yet so far as the initial possibility or plausibility of such a widened 
conception of human consciousness is concerned; — and this is all which 
can be dealt with at this moment of its first introduction; — I have not 
seen in such criticism as has hitherto been bestowed upon my theory any 
very weighty demurrer. 2 

1 See, for instance, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (henceforth 
in this book referred to as the S.P.R.), vol. iv. p. 256, Jan. 1887. 

2 See, however, an article in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 317 to 325, entitled 


" Normally at least," says one critic, summarising in a few words 
the ordinary view, "all the consciousness we have at any moment cor- 
responds to all the activity which is going on at that moment in the brain. 
There is one unitary conscious state accompanying all the simultaneous 
brain excitations together, and each single part of the brain-process con- 
tributes something to its nature. None of the brain-processes split them- 
selves off from the rest and have a separate consciousness of their own." 
This is, no doubt, the apparent dictum of consciousness, but it is nothing 
more. And the dicta of consciousness have already been shown to need 
correction in so many ways which the ordinary observer could never have 
anticipated that we have surely no right to trust consciousness, so to say, a 
step further than we can feel it, — to hold that anything whatever — even a 
separate consciousness in our own organisms — can be proved not to exist 
by the mere fact that we — as we know ourselves — are not aware of it. 

But indeed this claim to a unitary consciousness tends to become less 
forcible as it is more scientifically expressed. It rests on the plain man's 
conviction that there is only one of him; and this conviction the experimental 
psychologist is always tending to weaken or narrow by the admission of 
coexistent localised degrees of consciousness in the brain, which are at any 
rate not obviously reducible to a single state. Even those who would stop 
far short of my own position find it needful to resort to metaphors of their 
own to express the different streams of " awareness" which we all feel to 
be habitually coexistent within us. They speak of " fringes" of ordinary 
consciousness; of " marginal" associations; of the occasional perception 
of " currents of low intensity." These metaphors may all of them be of 
use, in a region where metaphor is our only mode of expression; but none 
of them covers all the facts now collected. And on the other side, I need 
not say, are plenty of phrases which beg the question of soul and body, or 
of the man's own spirit and external spirits, in no scientific fashion. There 
seems to be need of a term of wider application, which shall make as few 
assumptions as possible. Nor is such a term difficult to find. 

The idea of a threshold (limen, Schwelle), of consciousness; — of a level 
above which sensation or thought must rise before it can enter into our 
conscious life; — is a simple and familiar one. The word subliminal, — 
meaning " beneath that threshold," — has already been used to define those 
sensations which are too feeble to be individually recognised. I propose 
to extend the meaning of the term, so as to make it cover all that takes 
place beneath the ordinary threshold, or say, if preferred, outside the 

"Subliminal Self or Unconscious Cerebration," by Mr. A. H. Pierce, of Harvard 
University, with a reply by Mr. F. Podmore. 


ordinary margin of consciousness; — not only those faint stimulations 
whose very faintness keeps them submerged, but much else which psy- 
chology as yet scarcely recognises; sensations, thoughts, emotions, which 
may be strong, definite, and independent, but which, by the original con- 
stitution of our being, seldom emerge into that supraliminal current of 
consciousness which we habitually identify with ourselves. Perceiving (as 
this book will try to show) that these submerged thoughts and emotions 
possess the characteristics which we associate with conscious life, I feel 
bound to speak of a subliminal or ultra-marginal consciousness, — a con- 
sciousness which we shall see, for instance, uttering or writing sentences 
quite as complex and coherent as the supraliminal consciousness could 
make them. Perceiving further that this conscious life beneath the thresh- 
hold or beyond the margin seems to be no discontinuous or intermittent 
thing; that not only are these isolated subliminal processes comparable 
with isolated supraliminal processes (as when a problem is solved by some 
unknown procedure in a dream), but that there also is a continuous sub- 
liminal chain of memory (or more chains than one) involving just that 
kind of individual and persistent revival of old impressions, and response 
to new ones, which we commonly call a Self, — I find it permissible and 
convenient to speak of subliminal Selves, or more briefly of a subliminal 
Self. I do not indeed by using this term assume that there are two cor- 
relative and parallel selves existing always within each of us. Rather 
I mean by the subliminal Self that part of the Self which is commonly 
subliminal; and I conceive that there may be, — not only co-operations 
between these quasi-independent trains of thought, — but also upheavals 
and alternations of personality of many kinds, so that what was once 
below the surface may for a time, or permanently, rise above it. And 
I conceive also that no Self of which we can here have cognisance is in 
reality more than a fragment of a larger Self, — revealed in a fashion at 
once shifting and limited through an organism not so framed as to afford 
it full manifestation. 

Now this hypothesis is exposed manifestly to two main forms of attack, 
which to a certain extent neutralise each other. On the one hand it has 
been attacked, as has already been indicated, as being too elaborate for 
the facts, — as endowing transitory moments of subconscious intelligence 
with more continuity and independence than they really possess. These 
ripples over the threshold, it may be said, can be explained by the wind 
of circumstance, without assuming springs or currents in the personality 
deep below. 

But soon we shall come upon a group of phenomena which this view 


will by no means meet. For we shall find that the subliminal uprushes, — 
the impulses or communications which reach our emergent from our 
submerged selves, — are (in spite of their miscellaneousness) often charac- 
teristically different in quality from any element known to our ordinary 
supraliminal life. They are different in a way which implies faculty of 
which we have had no previous knowledge, operating in an environment 
of which hitherto we have been wholly unaware. This broad statement it is 
of course the purpose of my whole work to justify. Assuming its truth here 
for argument's sake, we see at once that the problem of the hidden self 
entirely changes its aspect. Telepathy and telaesthesia — the perception of 
distant thoughts and of distant scenes without the agency of the recognised 
organs of sense ; — those faculties suggest either incalculable extension of 
our own mental powers, or else the influence upon us of minds freer and 
less trammelled than our own. And this second hypothesis, — which would 
explain by the agency of discarnate minds, or spirits, all these supernormal 
phenomena, — does at first sight simplify the problem, and has by Mr. 
A. R. Wallace and others been pushed so far as to remove all need of what 
he deems the gratuitous and cumbrous hypothesis of a subliminal self. 

I believe, indeed, that it will become plain as we proceed that some 
such hypothesis as this, — of almost continuous spirit-intervention and 
spirit-guidance, — is at once rendered necessary if the subliminal faculties 
for which I argue are denied to man. And my conception of a subliminal 
self will thus appear, not as an extravagant and needless, but as a limiting 
and rationalising hypothesis, when it is applied to phenomena which at 
first sight suggest Mr. Wallace's extremer view, but which I explain by the 
action of man's own spirit, without invoking spirits external to himself. 
I do not indeed say that the explanation here suggested is applicable in all 
cases, or to the complete exclusion of the spirit-hypothesis. On the con- 
trary, the one view gives support to the other. For these faculties of distant 
communication exist none the less, even though we should refer them to 
our own subliminal selves. We can, in that case, affect each other at a 
distance, telepathically ; — and if our incarnate spirits can act thus in at 
least apparent independence of the fleshly body, the presumption is strong 
that other spirits may exist independently of the body, and may affect us 
in similar manner. 

The much-debated hypothesis of spirit-intervention, in short, still looms 
behind the hypothesis of the subliminal Self; but that intermediate hypo- 
thesis should, I think, in this early stage of what must be a long inquiry, 
prove useful to the partisans of either side. For those who are altogether 
unwilling to admit the action of agencies other than the spirits of living 


men, it will be needful to form as high an estimate as possible of the fac- 
ulties held in reserve by these spirits while still in the flesh. For those, 
on the other hand, who believe in the influence of discarnate spirits, this 
scheme affords a path of transition, and as it were a provisional intelli- 

These far-reaching speculations make the element of keenest interest 
in the inquiry which follows. But even apart from its possible bearing 
on a future life, the further study of our submerged mentation, — of the 
processes within us of which we catch only indirect, and as it were, re- 
fracted glimpses, — seems at this time especially called for by the trend 
of modern research. For of late years we have realised more and more 
fully upon how shifting and complex a foundation of ancestral experience 
each individual life is based. In recapitulation, in summary, in symbol, 
we retraverse, from the embryo to the corpse, the history of life on earth 
for millions of years. During our self-adaptation to continually wider 
environments, there may probably have been a continual displacement of 
the threshold of consciousness; — involving the lapse and submergence 
of much that once floated in the main stream of our being. Our conscious- 
ness at any given stage of our evolution is but the phosphorescent ripple 
on an unsounded sea. And, like the ripple, it is not only superficial but 
manifold. Our psychical unity is federative and unstable; it has arisen 
from irregular accretions in the remote past; it consists even now only in 
the limited collaboration of multiple groups. These discontinuities and 
incoherences in the Ego the elder psychologists managed to ignore. Yet 
infancy, idiocy, sleep, insanity, decay; — these breaks and stagnancies in 
the conscious stream were always present to show us, even more forcibly 
than more delicate analyses show us now, that the first obvious conception 
of man's continuous and unitary personality was wholly insecure; and 
that if indeed a soul inspired the body, that soul must be sought for far 
beneath these bodily conditions by which its self-manifestation was clouded 
and obscured. 

The difference between older and newer conceptions of the unifying 
principle or soul (if soul there be) in man, considered as manifesting 
through corporeal limitations, will thus resemble the difference between 
the older and newer conceptions of the way in which the sun reveals 
himself to our senses. Night and storm-cloud and eclipse men have known 
from the earliest ages; but now they know that even at noonday the sun- 
beam which reaches them, when fanned out into a spectrum, is barred 
with belts and lines of varying darkness ; — while they have learnt also 
that where at either end the spectrum fades out into what for us is black- 


ness, there stretches onwards in reality an undiscovered illimitable 

It will be convenient for future reference if I draw out this parallel 
somewhat more fully. I compare, then, man's gradual progress in self- 
knowledge to his gradual decipherment of the nature and meaning of the 
sunshine which reaches him as light and heat indiscernibly intermingled. 
So also Life and Consciousness — the sense of a world within him and a 
world without — come to the child indiscernibly intermingled in a per- 
vading glow. Optical analysis splits up the white ray into the various 
coloured rays which compose it. Philosophical analysis in like manner 
splits up the vague consciousness of the child into many faculties ; — into 
the various external senses, the various modes of thought within. This 
has been the task of descriptive and introspective psychology. Experi- 
mental psychology is adding a further refinement. In the sun's spectrum, 
and in stellar spectra, are many dark lines or bands, due to the absorption 
of certain rays by certain vapours in the atmosphere of sun or stars or earth. 
And similarly in the range of spectrum of our own sensation and faculty 
there are many inequalities — permanent and temporary — of brightness 
and definition. Our mental atmosphere is clouded by vapours and illu- 
mined by fires, and is clouded and illumined differently at different times. 
The psychologist who observes, say, how his reaction-times are modified 
by alcohol is like the physicist who observes what lines are darkened by the 
interposition of a special gas. Our knowledge of our conscious spectrum 
is thus becoming continually more accurate and detailed. 

But turning back once more to the physical side of our simile, we 
observe that our knowledge of the visible solar spectrum, however minute, 
is but an introduction to the knowledge which we hope ultimately to attain 
of the sun's rays. The limits of our spectrum do not inhere in the sun 
that shines, but in the eye that marks his shining. Beyond each end of 
that prismatic ribbon are ether-waves of which our retina takes no cog- 
nisance. Beyond the red end come waves whose potency we still recog- 
nise, but as heat and not as light. Beyond the violet end are waves still 
more mysterious; whose very existence man for ages never suspected, and 
whose intimate potencies are still but obscurely known. Even thus, I 
venture to affirm, beyond each end of our conscious spectrum extends a 
range of faculty and perception, exceeding the known range, but as yet 
indistinctly guessed. The artifices of the modern physicist have extended 
far in each direction the visible spectrum known to Newton. It is for the 
modern psychologist to discover artifices which may extend in each direc- 
tion the conscious spectrum as known to Plato or to Kant. The phenomena 


cited in this work carry us, one may say, as far onwards as fluorescence 
carries us beyond the violet end. The "X rays" of the psychical spec- 
trum remain for a later age to discover. 

Our simile, indeed — be it once for all noted — is a most imperfect one. 
The range of human faculty cannot be truly expressed in any linear form. 
Even a three-dimensional scheme, — a radiation of faculties from a centre 
of life, — would ill render its complexity. Yet something of clearness will 
be gained by even this rudimentary mental picture ; — representing con- 
scious human faculty as a linear spectrum whose red rays begin where 
voluntary muscular control and organic sensation begin, and whose violet 
rays fade away at the point at which man's highest strain of thought or 
imagination merges into reverie or ecstasy. 

At both ends of this spectrum I believe that our evidence indicates a 
momentous prolongation. Beyond the red end, of course, we already know 
that vital faculty of some kind must needs extend. We know that organic 
processes are constantly taking place within us which are not subject to our 
control, but which make the very foundation of our physical being. We 
know that the habitual limits of our voluntary action can be far extended 
under the influence of strong excitement. It need not surprise us to find 
that appropriate artifices — hypnotism or self-suggestion — can carry the 
power of our will over our organism to a yet further point. 

The faculties that lie beyond the violet end of our psychological spec- 
trum will need more delicate exhibition and will command a less ready 
belief. The actinic energy which lies beyond the violet end of the solar 
spectrum is less obviously influential in our material world than is the 
dark heat which lies beyond the red end. Even so, one may say, the 
influence of the ultra-intellectual or supernormal faculties upon our wel- 
fare as terrene organisms is less marked in common life than the influence 
of the organic or subnormal faculties. Yet it is that prolongation of our 
spectrum upon which our gaze will need to be most strenuously fixed. It 
is there that we shall find our inquiry opening upon a cosmic prospect, and 
inciting us upon an endless way. 

Even the first stages of this progress are long and labyrinthine; and 
it may be useful to conclude this introductory chapter by a brief summary 
of the main tracts across which our winding road must lie. It will be my 
object to lead by transitions as varied and as gradual as possible from 
phenomena held as normal to phenomena held as supernormal, but which 
like the rest are simply and solely the inevitable results and manifestations 
of universal Law. 

Following then on this first or introductory chapter is one containing a 


discussion of the ways in which human personality disintegrates and 
decays. Alternations of personality and hysterical phenomena generally 
are in this connection the most instructive to us. 

In the third chapter we utilize the insight thus gained and discuss the 
line of evolution which enables man to maintain and intensify his true 
normality. What type of man is he to whom the epithet of normal, — an 
epithet often obscure and misleading, — may be most fitly applied ? I 
claim that that man shall be regarded as normal who has the fullest 
grasp of faculties which inhere in the whole race. Among these facul- 
ties I count subliminal as well as supraliminal powers ; — the mental 
processes which take place below the conscious threshold as well as 
those which take place above it; and I attempt to show that those who 
reap most advantage from this submerged mentation are men of genius. 

The fourth chapter deals with the alternating phase through which 
man's personality is constructed habitually to pass. I speak of sleep; 
which I regard as a phase of personality, adapted to maintain our exist- 
ence in the spiritual environment, and to draw from thence the vitality 
of our physical organisms. In this chapter I also discuss certain super- 
normal phenomena which sometimes occur in the state of sleep. 

The fifth chapter treats of hypnotism, considered as an empirical 
development of sleep. It will be seen that hypnotic suggestion intensifies 
the physical recuperation of sleep, and aids the emergence of those super- 
normal phenomena which ordinary sleep and spontaneous somnambulism 
sometimes exhibit. 

From hypnotism we pass on in the sixth chapter to experiments, less 
familiar to the public than those classed as hypnotic, but which give a still 
further insight into our subliminal faculty. With these experiments are 
intermingled many spontaneous phenomena; and the chapter will take 
up and continue the spontaneous phenomena of Chapters III. and IV. as 
well as the experiments of Chapter V. Its theme will be the messages 
which the subliminal self sends up to the supraliminal in the form of sensory 
hallucinations: — - the visions fashioned internally, but manifested not to 
the inward eye alone; the voices which repeat as though in audible tones 
the utterance of the self within. 

These sensory automatisms, as I have termed them, are very often 
telepathic — involve, that is to say, the transmission of ideas and sensations 
from one mind to another without the agency of the recognised organs 
of sense. Nor would it seem that such transmission need necessarily 
cease with the bodily death of the transmitting agent. In the seventh 
chapter evidence is brought forward to show that those who com- 


municated with us telepathically in this world may communicate with 
us telepathically from the other. Thus phantasms oj the dead receive a 
new meaning from observations of the phenomena occurring between 
living men. 

But besides the hallucinatory hearing or picture-seeing which we have 
classed as sensory automatisms, there is another method by which the 
subliminal may communicate with the supraliminal self. 

In Chapter VIII., we consider in what ways motor automatism — the 
unwilled activity of hand or voice — may be used as a means of such 
communication. Unwilled writings and utterances furnish the oppor- 
tunity for experiment more prolonged and continuous than the phantasms 
or pictures of sensory automatism can often give, and, like them, may 
sometimes originate in telepathic impressions received by the subliminal 
self from another mind. These motor automatisms, moreover, as the ninth 
chapter shows, are apt to become more complete, more controlling, than 
sensory automatisms. They may lead on, in some cases, to the apparent 
possession of the sensitive by some extraneous spirit, who seems to write 
and talk through the sensitive's organism, giving evidence of his own sur- 
viving identity. 

The reader who may feel disposed to give his adhesion to this culmina- 
ting group of the long series of evidences which have pointed with more 
and more clearness to the survival of human personality, and to the pos- 
sibility for men on earth of actual commerce with a world beyond, may 
feel perhaps that the desiderium orbis catholici, the intimate and universal 
hope of every generation of men, has never till this day approached so near 
to fulfilment. There has never been so fair a prospect for Life and Love. 
But the goal to which we tend is not an ideal of personal happiness alone. 
The anticipation of our own future is but one element in the prospect 
which opens to us now. Our inquiry has broadened into a wider scope. 
The point from which we started was an analysis of the latent faculties of 
man. The point towards which our argument has carried us is the exist- 
ence of a spiritual environment in which those faculties operate, and of 
unseen neighbours who speak to us thence with slowly gathering power. 
Deep in this spiritual environment the cosmic secret lies. It is our busi- 
ness to collect the smallest indications; to carry out from this treasury of 
Rhampsinitus so much as our bare hands can steal away. We have 
won our scraps of spiritual experience, our messages from behind the 
veil; we can try them in their connection with certain enigmas which 
philosophy hardly hoped to be able to put to proof. Can we, for in- 
stance, learn anything, — to begin with fundamental problems, — of 


the relation of spiritual phenomena to Space, to Time, to the material 
world ? 

As to the idea of Space, the evidence which will have been presented 
will enable us to speak with perhaps more clearness than could have been 
hoped for in such a matter. Spiritual life, we infer, is not bound and con- 
fined by space-considerations in the same way as the life of earth. But in 
what way is that greater freedom attained ? It appears to be attained by 
the mere extension of certain licenses (so to call them) permitted to our- 
selves. We on earth submit to two familiar laws of the ordinary material 
universe. A body can only act where it is. Only one body can occupy 
the same part of space at the same moment. Applied to common affairs 
these rules are of plain construction. But once get beyond ponderable 
matter, — once bring life and ether into play, and definitions become 
difficult indeed. The orator, the poet, we say, can only act where he is; 
— but where is he ? He has transformed the sheet of paper into a spiritual 
agency ; — nay, the mere memory of him persists as a source of energy 
in other minds. Again, we may say that no other body can be in the same 
place as this writing-table; but what of the ether? What we have thus 
far learnt of spiritual operation seems merely to extend these two pos- 
sibilities. Telepathy indefinitely extends the range of an unembodied 
spirit's potential presence. The interpenetration of the spiritual with 
the material environment leaves this ponderable planet unable to check 
or to hamper spiritual presence or operation. Strange and new though 
our evidence may be, it needs at present in its relation to space nothing 
more than an immense extension of conceptions which the disappearance 
of earthly limitations was certain immensely to extend. 

How, then, does the matter stand with regard to our relation to Time ? 
Do we find that our new phenomena point to any mode of understanding 
or of transcending Time fundamentally different from those modes which 
we have at our command ? 

In dealing with Time Past we have memory and written record; in 
dealing with Time Future we have forethought, drawing inferences from 
the past. 

Can, then, the spiritual knowledge of Past and Future which our 
evidence shows be explained by assuming that these existing means of 
knowledge are raised to a higher power? Or are we driven to postulate 
something in the nature of Time which is to us inconceivable; — some 
co-existence of Past and Future in an eternal Now ? It is plainly with 
Time Past that we must begin the inquiry. 

The knowledge of the past which automatic communications manifest 



is in most cases apparently referable to the actual memory of persons still 
existing beyond the tomb. It reaches us telepathically, as from a mind in 
which remote scenes are still imprinted. But there are certain scenes which 
are not easily assigned to the individual memory of any given spirit. And 
if it be possible for us to learn of present facts by telaesthesia as well as by 
telepathy; — by some direct supernormal percipience without the interven- 
tion of any other mind to which the facts are already known, — may there 
not be also a retrocognitive telaesthesia by which we may attain a direct 
knowledge of facts in the past ? 

Some conception of this kind may possibly come nearest to the truth. 
It may even be that some World-Soul is perennially conscious of all its past ; 
and that individual souls, as they enter into deeper consciousness, enter 
into something which is at once reminiscence and actuality. But never- 
theless a narrower hypothesis will cover the actual cases with which we have 
to deal. Past facts are known to men on earth not from memory only, but 
by written record; and there may be records, of what kind we know not, 
which persist in the spiritual world. Our retrocognitions seem often a 
recovery of isolated fragments of thought and feeling, pebbles still hard 
and rounded amid the indecipherable sands over which the mighty waters 
are "rolling evermore. , ' 

When we look from Time Past to Time Future we are confronted with 
essentially the same problems, though in a still more perplexing form, and 
with the world-old mystery of Free Will versus Necessity looming in the 
background. Again we find that, just as individual memory would serve 
to explain a large proportion of Retrocognition, so individual forethought 
— a subliminal forethought, based often on profound organic facts not 
normally known to us — will explain a large proportion of Precognition. 
But here again we find also precognitions which transcend what seems 
explicable by the foresight of any mind such as we know ; and we are tempted 
to dream of a World-Soul whose Future is as present to it as its Past. But 
in this speculation also, so vast and vague an explanation seems for the 
present beyond our needs ; and it is safer — if aught be safe in this region 
which only actual evidence could have emboldened us to approach — to 
take refuge in the conception of intelligences not infinite^ yet gifted with a 
foresight which strangely transcends our own. 

Closely allied to speculations such as these is another speculation, 
more capable of subjection to experimental test, yet which remains still 
inconclusively tested, and which has become for many reasons a stumbling- 
block rather than a corroboration in the spiritual inquiry. I refer to the 
question whether any influence is exercised by spirits upon the gross 


material world otherwise than through ordinary organic structures. We 
know that the spirit of a living man controls his own organism, and we shall 
see reason to conclude that discarnate spirits may also control, by some form 
of " possession," the organisms of living persons, — may affect directly, that 
is to say, some portions of matter which we call living, namely, the brain 
of the entranced sensitive. There seems to me, then, no paradox in the 
supposition that some effect should be produced by spiritual agency — 
possibly through the mediation of some kind of energy derived from 
living human beings — upon inanimate matter as well. And I believe 
that as a fact such effects have been observed and recorded in a trust- 
worthy manner by Sir W. Crookes, the late Dr. Speer, and others, in 
the cases especially of D. D. Home and of W. Stainton Moses. If, indeed, 
I call these and certain other records still inconclusive, it is mainly on 
account of the mass of worthless narratives with which they have been in 
some sense smothered; the long history of so-called investigations which 
have consisted merely in an interchange of credulity and fraud. For the 
present the evidence of this kind which has real value is better presented, 
I think, in separate records than collected or discussed in any generalised 
form. All that I purpose in this work, therefore, is briefly to indicate 
the relation which these "physical phenomena" hold to the psychical 
phenomena with which my book is concerned. Alongside of the faculty 
or achievement of man's ordinary or supraliminal self I shall demarcate 
the faculty or achievement which I ascribe to his subliminal self; and 
alongside of this again I shall arrange such few well-attested pheno- 
mena as seem primd facie to demand the physical intervention of 
discarnate intelligences. 

I have traced the utmost limits to which any claim to a scientific basis 
for these inquiries can at present be pushed. Yet the subject-matter has 
not yet been exhausted of half its significance. The conclusions to which 
our evidence points are not such as can be discussed or dismissed as a mere 
matter of speculative curiosity. They affect every belief, every faculty, 
every hope and aim of man; and they affect him the more intimately as his 
interests grow more profound. Whatever meaning be applied to ethics, 
to philosophy, to religion, the concern of all these is here. 

It would have been inconsistent with my main purpose had I interpo- 
lated considerations of this kind into the body of this work. For that 
purpose was above all to show that realms left thus far to philosophy or to 
religion, — too often to mere superstition and idle dream, — might in the 
end be brought under steady scientific rule. I contend that Religion and 
Science are no separable or independent provinces of thought or action; 


but rather that each name implies a different aspect of the same ideal; — 
that ideal being the completely normal reaction of the individual spirit to 
the whole of cosmic law. 

Assuredly this deepening response of man's spirit to the Cosmos deepen- 
ing round him must be affected by all the signals which now are glimmering 
out of night to tell him of his inmost nature and his endless fate. Who can 
think that either Science or Revelation has spoken as yet more than a first 
half-comprehended word? But if in truth souls departed call to us, it is 
to them that we shall listen most of all. We shall weigh their undesigned 
concordances, we shall analyse the congruity of their message with the 
facts which such a message should explain. To some thoughts which may 
thus be generated I shall try to give expression in an Epilogue to the present 


0Avar6s £<rriv 6/c6(ra iyepdivres dpiofiev, 6ic6(ra dk eflSovTes, tiirvos. 

— Heraclitus. 

Of the race of man we know for certain that it has been evolved through 
many ages and through countless forms of change. We know for certain 
that its changes continue still; nay, that more causes of change act upon 
us in "fifty years of Europe" than in "a cycle of Cathay." We may rea- 
sonably conjecture that the race will continue to change with increasing 
rapidity, and through a period in comparison with which our range of 
recorded history shrinks into a moment. 

The actual nature of these coming changes, indeed, lies beyond our 
imagination. Many of them are probably as inconceivable to us now as 
eyesight would have been to our eyeless ancestors. All that we can do is 
to note so far as possible the structural laws of our personality as deduced 
from its changes thus far; inferring that for some time to come, at any rate, 
its further changes will proceed upon similar lines. 

I have already (Chapter I) indicated the general view as to the nature 
of human personality which is maintained in this work. I regard each 
man as at once profoundly unitary and almost infinitely composite, as 
inheriting from earthly ancestors a multiplex and " colonial" organism — 
polyzoic and perhaps polypsychic in an extreme degree ; but also as ruling 
and unifying that organism by a soul or spirit absolutely beyond our present 
analysis — a soul which has originated in a spiritual or metetherial environ- 
ment; which even while embodied subsists in that environment; and which 
will still subsist therein after the body's decay. 

It is, of course, impossible for us to picture to ourselves the way in 
which the individual life of each cell of the body is reconciled with the 
unity of the central life which controls the body as a whole. But this 
difficulty is not created or intensified by the hypothesis of a separate and 
persistent soul. On no hypothesis can we really understand the collabora- 
tic a and subordination of the cell-lives of any multicellular animal. It is 



as mysterious in the starfish as it is in Plato; and the " eight brains of 
Aurelia," with their individual and their common life, are as inconceivable 
as the life of the phagocytes in the philosopher's veins, in their relation to 
his central thought. 1 

I claim, in fact, that the ancient hypothesis of an indwelling soul, pos- 
sessing and using the body as a whole, yet bearing a real, though obscure 
relation to the various more or less apparently disparate conscious group- 
ings manifested in connection with the organism and in connection with 
more or less localised groups of nerve-matter, is a hypothesis not more 
perplexing, not more cumbrous, than any other hypothesis yet suggested. 
I claim also that it is conceivably provable, — I myself hold it as actually 
proved, — by direct observation. I hold that certain manifestations of 
central individualities, associated now or formerly with certain definite 
organisms, have been observed in operation apart from those organisms, 
both while the organisms were still living, and after they had decayed. 
Whether or no this thesis be as yet sufficiently proved, it is at least at vari- 
ance with no scientific principle nor established fact whatever; and it is 
of a nature which continued observation may conceivably establish to the 
satisfaction of all. The negative thesis, on the other hand, is a thesis in 
unstable equilibrium. It cannot be absolutely proved by any number of 
negative instances ; and it may be absolutely disproved by a single positive 
instance. It may have at present a greater scientific currency, but it can 
have no real scientific authority as against the view defended in these pages. 

Leaving these questions, however, aside for the present, we may agree 
that in the organism as we can observe it in common life we have no com- 
plete or unchanging unity, but rather a complex hierarchy of groups of 
cells exercising vaguely limited functions, and working together with 
rough precision, tolerable harmony, fair success. That these powers ever 
work perfectly together we have no evidence. Our feeling of health is but 
a rough haphazard register of what is passing within us. Nor would it 
ever be possible to define a permanently ideal status in an organism in 
moving equilibrium, — an organism which lives by exploding unstable 
compounds, and which is constantly aiming at new ends at the expense of 
the old. 

Many disturbances and disintegrations of the personality must pre- 
sently fall to be discussed. But the reader who may follow me must 
remember the point of view from which I am writing. The aim of my 

1 The difficulty of conceiving any cellular focus, either fixed or shifting, has actually 
led some psychologists to demand a unifying principle which is not cellular, and yet 
is not a soul. 


analysis is not to destroy but to fulfil; — or say, rather, my hope is that 
observation of the ways in which the personality tends to disintegrate may 
suggest methods which may tend on the other hand to its more complete 

Such improvements upon the natural conditions of the organism are not 
unknown. Just as the study of hysteria deals mainly with instabilities in 
the threshold of consciousness, so does the study of zymotic disease deal 
mainly with instabilities in the constitution of the blood. The ordinary 
object of the physician is to check these instabilities when they occur; to 
restore healthy blood in the place of vitiated. The experimental biologist 
has a further aim. He wishes to provide men with better blood than nature 
has bestowed; to elicit from virus and decay some element whose infusion 
into the veins may give immunity against microbic invasion. As the adult 
is safer against such attacks than the child by dint of his more advanced 
development, so is the immunised adult safer than the common man. The 
change of his blood which healthy maturity has induced has made him 
safe against whooping-cough. The change in his blood which we effect 
by injecting antitoxin makes him temporarily safe against diphtheria. 
We have improved upon nature; — and our artifice has been prophylactic 
by virtue of being in a certain sense developmental. 

Even such, I trust, may be the achievement of experimental psychology 
in a later day. I shall be well content if in this chapter I can give hints 
for some future colligation of such evolutive phenomena as may lurk amid a 
mass of phenomena mainly dissolutive — phenomena whose records are 
scattered and imperfect, and have as yet only in some few directions, and 
by quite recent writers, been collated or systematised on any definite plan. 

The discussion of these disintegrations of personality needs, I think, 
some little clearing of the ground beforehand, if it is to avoid confusion. 
It will be needful to speak of concurrent and alternating streams of con- 
sciousness, — of subliminal and supraliminal strata of personality and 
the like; — phrases which save much trouble when used with care, but 
which need some words of preliminary explanation. It is not easy to 
realise that anything which deserves the name of consciousness can be 
going on within us, apart from that central stream of thought and feeling 
with which we identify ourselves in common life. Something of definition 
is needed; — not indeed of any formal or dogmatic kind; — but enough to 
make clear the sense given to such words as consciousness, memory, per- 
sonality, in the ensuing pages. 

I begin, then, with the obvious remark that when we conceive any act 
other than our own as a conscious act, we do so either because we regard 


it as complex, and therefore purposive, or because we perceive that it has 
been remembered. Thus we call the fencer or the chess-player fully con- 
scious ; or, again, we say, " The man who seemed stunned after that blow 
on the head must really have been conscious all the time; for he afterwards 
recalled every incident." The memorability of an act is, in fact, a better 
proof of consciousness than its complexity. Thus consciousness has been 
denied both to hypnotised subjects and to dogs; but it is easier to prove 
that the hypnotised subject is conscious than that the dog is conscious. 
For the hypnotised subject, though he may forget the incidents of the 
trance when he awakes, will remember them in the next trance; or he may 
be trained to remember them in the waking state also; while with regard 
to the dog we cannot decide from the mere complexity of his actions how 
far he is conscious of their performance. With him, too, the best line of 
proof lies in his obvious memory of past acts. And yet, although all agree 
that our own memory, broadly speaking, proves our past consciousness, 
some persons would not admit that a dog's memory does so too. The 
dog's organism, they would say, responds, no doubt, in a new manner to 
a second repetition of a previous stimulus; but this is more or less true of 
all living organisms, or parts of organisms, even far below what we gen- 
erally regard as a conscious level. 

Reflections of this kind naturally lead to a wider conception of con- 
sciousness. It is gradually seen that the earlier inquiries which men have 
made about consciousness have been of a merely ethical or legal char- 
acter; — have simply aimed at deciding whether at a given moment a man 
was responsible for his acts, either to a human or to a divine tribunal. 
Commonsense has seemed to encourage this method of definite demarca- 
tion; we judge practically either that a man is conscious or that he is not; 
in the experience of life intermediate states are of little importance. 

As soon, however, as the problem is regarded as a psychological one, 
to be decided by observation and experiment, these hard and fast lines 
grow fainter and fainter. We come to regard consciousness as an attri- 
bute which may possibly be present in all kinds of varying degrees in con- 
nection with the animal and vegetable worlds; as the psychical counterpart 
of life; as conceivably the psychical counterpart of all phenomenal existence. 
Or, rather, we may say this of mind, to which, in its more elementary forms, 
consciousness bears somewhat the same relation as self-consciousness bears 
to consciousness, or some higher evolution may bear to self -consciousness. 

This being so, I cannot see how we can phrase our definition more 
simply than by saying that any act or condition must be regarded as con- 
scious if it is potentially memorable; — if it can be recollected, under any 


circumstances, by the subject concerned. It does not seem needful that 
the circumstances under which such recollection may occur should arise 
while the subject is still incarnated on this planet. We shall never on this 
planet remember the great majority of our dreams ; but those dreams were 
presumably no less conscious than the dreams which a sudden awakening 
allowed us to keep in memory. Certain hypnotic subjects, indeed, who 
can be made to remember their dreams by suggestion, apparently remem- 
ber dreams previously latent just as easily as dreams previously remem- 
bered. And we shall have various other examples of the unexpected 
recollection of experiences supposed to have been entirely devoid of con- 

We are bound, I think, to draw at least this negative conclusion: that 
we must not take for granted that our apparently central consciousness is 
something wholly different in kind from the minor consciousnesses out of 
which it is in some sense elaborated. I do indeed believe it to be in an 
important sense different; but this difference must not be assumed on the 
basis of our subjective sensations alone. We must approach the whole 
subject of split or duplicated personalities with no prepossession against 
the possibility of any given arrangement or division of the total mass of 
consciousness which exists within us. 

Before we can picture to ourselves how that mass of consciousness may 
disintegrate, we ought, were it possible, to picture to ourselves how it is in 
the first instance integrated. That, however, is a difficulty which dees not 
begin with the constitution of man. It begins when unicellular develop 
into multicellular organisms. It is, of course, a mystery how a single cell 
can hold together, and what kind of unity it can possess. But it is a fresh 
mystery when several cells cohere in a conjoint and independent life. In 
the collective unity of certain " colonial animals" we have a kind of sketch 
or parody of our own complex being. Higher intelligences may possibly 
see us as we see the hydrozoon — a creature split up into different "per- 
sons," a "hydriform person" who feeds, a "medusiform person" who 
propagates, and so on — elements of the animal differentiated for different 
ends — interconnected from one point of view as closely as our stomach 
and brain, yet from another point of view separable existences, capable of 
detachment and of independent regeneration in all kinds of different ways. 
Still more composite, though less conspicuously composite, is every animal 
that we meet as we rise through the scale; and in man we reach the summit 
both of colonial complexity and of centralised control. 

I need hardly say that as regards the inner nature of this close co- 
ordination, this central government, science can at present tell us little or 


nothing. The growth of the nervous mechanism may be to some extent 
deciphered; but how this mechanism is centrally governed; what is the 
tendency which makes for unity; where precisely this unity resides, and 
what is its exact relation to the various parts of the multicellular organism 
■ — all these are problems in the nature of life, to which as yet no solution 
is known. 

The needed clue, as I believe, can be afforded only by the discovery 
of laws affecting primarily that unseen or spiritual plane of being where I 
imagine the origin of life to lie. If we can suppose telepathy to be a first 
indication of a law of this type, and to occupy in the spiritual world some 
such place as gravitation occupies in the material world, we might imagine 
something analogous to the force of cohesion as operating in the psychical 
contexture of a human personality. Such a personality, at any rate, as the 
development of higher from lower organisms shows, involves the aggrega- 
tion of countless minor psychical entities, whose characteristics still per- 
sist, although in a manner consistent with the possibility that one larger 
psychical entity, whether pre-existent or otherwise, is the unifying con- 
tinuum of which those smaller entities are fragments, and exercises over 
them a pervading, though an incomplete, control. 

It is plainly impossible to say beforehand what will be the relation to 
the ordinary stream of consciousness of a personality thus composed. We 
have no right to assume that all our psychical operations will fall at the 
same time, or at any time, into the same central current of perception, 
or rise above what we have called the ordinary conscious threshold. We 
can be sure, in fact, that there will be much which will not so rise; can we 
predict what will rise ? 

We can only reply that the perception of stimuli by the supraliminal 
consciousness is a kind of exercise of function; and that here, as in other 
cases where a function is exercised, part of its range will consist of such 
operation as the primary structure of the organism obliges it to perform, 
and part will consist of such operation as natural selection (after the struc- 
ture has come into being) has trained it to perform. There will be some- 
thing which is structurally inevitable, and something which was not struc- 
turally inevitable, but which has proved itself practically advantageous. 

Thus it may be inevitable — a necessary result of nervous structure — 
that consciousness should accompany unfamiliar cerebral combinations; 
— that the " fraying of fresh channels" should carry with it a perceptible 
tingle of novelty. Or it is possible, again, that this vivid consciousness of 
new cerebral combinations may be a later acquisition, and merely due to 
the obvious advantage of preventing new achievements from stereotyping 


themselves before they have been thoroughly practised; — as a musician 
will keep his attention fixed on a difficult novelty, lest his execution should 
become automatic before he has learnt to render the piece as he desires. 
It seems likely, at any rate, that the greater part of the contents of our 
supraliminal consciousness may be determined in some such fashion as this, 
by natural selection so operating as to keep ready to hand those percep- 
tions which are most needed for the conduct of life. 

The notion of the upbuilding of the personality here briefly given is of 
use, I think, in suggesting its practical tendencies to dissolution. Sub- 
jected continually to both internal and external stress and strain, its ways 
of yielding indicate the grain of its texture. 

It is possible that if we could discern the minute psychology of this 
long series of changes, ranging from modifications too minute to be noted 
as abnormal to absolute revolutions of the whole character and intelligence, 
we might find no definite break in all the series; but rather a slow, con- 
tinuous detachment of one psychical unit or element of consciousness 
after another from the primary synthesis. It is possible, on the other 
hand, that there may be a real break at a point where there appears to our 
external observation to be a break, namely, where the personality passes 
into its new phase through an interval of sleep or trance. And I believe 
that there is another break, at a point much further advanced, and not to 
be reached in this chapter, where some external intelligence begins in some 
way to possess the organism and to replace for a time the ordinary intel- 
lectual activity by an activity of its own. Setting, however, this last pos- 
sibility for the present aside, we must adopt some arrangement on which 
to hang our cases. For this purpose the appearance of sleep or trance 
will make a useful, although not a definite, line of demarcation. 

We may begin with localised psychical hypertrophies and isolations, — 
terms which I shall explain as we proceed; and then pass on through 
hysterical instabilities (where intermediate periods of trance may or may 
not be present) to those more advanced sleep-wakings and dimorphisms 
which a barrier of trance seems always to separate from the primary stream 
of conscious life. All such changes, of course, are generally noxious to 
the psychical organism; and it will be simpler to begin by dwelling on 
their noxious aspect, and regarding them as steps on the road — on one 
of the many roads — to mental overthrow. 

The process begins, then, with something which is to the psychical 
organism no more than a boil or a corn is to the physical. In consequence 
of some suggestion from without, or of some inherited tendency, a small 
group of psychical units set up a process of exaggerated growth which 


shuts them off from free and healthy interchange with the rest of the per- 

The first symptom of disaggregation is thus the idee fixe, that is to 
say, the persistence of an uncontrolled and unmodifiable group of thoughts 
or emotions, which from their brooding isolation, — from the very fact of 
deficient interchange with the general current of thought, — become alien 
and intrusive, so that some special idea or image presses into conscious- 
ness with undue and painful frequency. 

The fixed idea, thus originating, may develop in different ways. It 
may become a centre of explosion, or a nucleus of separation, or a begin- 
ning of death. It may induce an access of hysterical convulsions, thus 
acting like a material foreign body which presses on a sensitive part of the 
organism. Or it may draw to its new parasitic centre so many psychical 
elements that it forms a kind of secondary personality, co-existing secretly 
with the primary one, or even able at times (as in some well-known cases) 
to carry the whole organism by a coup-de-main. (Such changes, it may 
be noted in passing, are not always for the worse.) Or, again, the new 
quasi-independent centres may be merely anarchical; the revolt may spread 
to every cell; and the forces of the environment, ever making war upon 
the organism, may thus effect its total decay. 

Let us dwell for a few moments on the nature of these fixed or insistent 
ideas. They are not generally or at the first outset extravagant fancies, — 
as that one is made of glass or the like. Rather will " fixed ideas" come 
to seem a mere expression for something in a minor degree common to 
most of us. Hardly any mind, I suppose, is wholly free from tendencies 
to certain types of thought or emotion for which we cannot summon any 
adequate check — useless recurrent broodings over the past or anxieties 
for the future, perhaps traces of old childish experience which have become 
too firmly fixed wholly to disappear. Nay, it may well be that we must 
look even further back than our own childhood for the origin of many 
haunting troubles. Inherited tendencies to terror, especially, seem to 
reach far back into a prehistoric past. In a recent "Study of Fears," 
which Professor Stanley Hall has based on a wide statistical collection, 1 
it would seem that the fears of childhood often correspond to no existing 
cause for uneasiness, but rather to the vanished perils of primitive man. 
The fear of darkness, for instance, the fear of solitude, the fear of thunder- 
storms, the fear of the loss of orientation, speak of primitive helplessness, 

1 Stanley Hall's " Study of Fears," American Journal of Psychology, vol. viii., 
No. 2, January, 1897. See also " The Use of Hypnotism in the First Degree," by 
Dr. Russell Sturgis (Boston, 1894). 


just as the fear of animals, the fear of strangers, suggest the fierce and 
hazardous life of early man. To all such instinctive feelings as these 
a morbid development is easily given. 

Of what nature must we suppose this morbid development to be? 
Does it fall properly within our present discussion? or is it not simply a 
beginning of brain-disease, which concerns the physician rather than the 
psychologist ? The psychologist's best answer to this question will be to 
show cases of fixed ideas cured by psychological means. 1 And indeed there 
are few cases to show which have been cured by any methods except the 
psychological; if hypnotic suggestion does not succeed with an idee fixe, 
it is seldom that any other treatment will cure it. We may, of course, say 
that the brain troubles thus cured were functional, and that those which 
went on inevitably into insanity were organic, although the distinction 
between functional and organic is not easily demonstrable in this ultra- 
microscopic realm. 

At any rate, we have actually on record, — and that is what our argu- 
ment needs, — a great series of idles -fixes, of various degrees of intensity, 
cured by suggestion; — cured, that is to say, by a subliminal setting in 
action of minute nervous movements which our supraliminal consciousness 
cannot in even the blindest manner manage to set to work. Some such 
difference as exists on a gross scale between striped and unstriped muscle 
seems to exist on a minute scale among these smallest involved cells and 
fibres, or whatever they be. Some of them obey our conscious will, but 
most of them are capable of being governed only by subliminal strata of 
the self. 

If, however, it be the subliminal self which can reduce these elements 
to order, it is often probably the subliminal self to which their disorder is 
originally due. If a fixed idea, say agoraphobia, grows up in me, this may 
probably be because the proper controlling co-ordinations of thought, 
which I ought to be able to summon up at will, have sunk below the level 
at which will can reach them. I am no longer able, that is to say, to con- 
vince myself by reasoning that there is no danger in crossing the open 
square. And this may be the fault of my subliminal self, whose business 
it is to keep the ideas which I need for common life easily within my reach, 
and which has failed to do this, owing to some enfeeblement of its grasp 
of my organism. 

If we imagine these obscure operations under some such form as this, 
we get the advantage of being able to connect these insistent ideas in 
a coherent sequence with the more advanced phenomena of hysteria. 
1 For instances of such cures see Drs. Raymond and Janet's Nevroses et Idees fixes. 


We have seen that the presence of insistent ideas implies an instability 
of the conscious threshold; and this, in its turn, indicates a disorderly 
or diseased condition of the hypnotic stratum, — of that region of the 
personality which, as we shall see, is best known to us through the fact 
that it is reached by hypnotic suggestion. 

Now we shall find, I think, that all the phenomena of hysteria are 
reducible to the same general conception. To understand their many 
puzzles we have to keep our eyes fixed upon just these psychological no- 
tions — upon a threshold of ordinary consciousness above which certain 
perceptions and faculties ought to be, but are not always, maintained, 
and upon a " hypnotic stratum" or region of the personality to which 
hypnotic suggestion appeals; and which includes faculty and perception 
which surpass the supraliminal, but whose operation is capricious and 
dreamlike, inasmuch as they lie, so to say, in a debateable region between 
two rules — the known rule of the supraliminal self, adapted to this life's 
experience and uses, and the conjectured rule of a fuller and profounder 
self, rarely reached by any artifice which our present skill suggests. Some 
of these conscious groupings have got separated from the ordinary stream 
of consciousness. These may still be unified in the subliminal, but they 
need to be unified in the supraliminal also. The normal relation between 
the supraliminal and the subliminal may be disturbed by the action of 

Let us now see how far this view, which I suggested in the S.P.R. 
Proceedings as far back as 1892, 1 fits in with those modern observations 
of hysteria, in Paris and Vienna especially, which are transforming all that 
group of troubles from the mere opprobrium of medicine into one of the 
most fertile sources of new knowledge of body and mind. 

First, then, let us briefly consider what is the general type of hysterical 
troubles. Speaking broadly, we may say that the symptoms of hysteria 
form, in the first place, a series of phantom copies of real maladies of the 
nervous system ; and, in the second place, a series of fantasies played upon 
that system — of unreal, dreamlike ailments, often such as no physio- 
logical mechanism can be shown to have determined. These latter cases 
are often due, as we shall see, not to purely physiological, but rather to 
intellectual causes; they represent, not a particular pattern in which the 
nervous system tends of itself to disintegrate, but a particular pattern 
which has been imposed upon it by some intellectual process ; — in short, 
by some form of self-suggestion. 

Let us briefly review some common types of hysterical disability, — 
1 See vol. vii. p. 309. 


taking as our first guide Dr. Pierre Janet's admirable work, VEtat Mental 
des Hysteriques (Paris, 1893). 

What, then, to begin with, is Dr. Janet's general conception of the 
psychological states of the advanced hysteric? "In the expression / jeel" 
he says (VEtat Mental, p. 39), "we have two elements: a small new psy- 
chological fact, 'feel,' and an enormous mass of thoughts already formed 
into a system 'I.' These two things mix and combine, and to say / jeel 
is to say that the personality, already enormous, has seized and absorbed 
this small new sensation; ... as though the I were an amoeba which 
sent out a prolongation to suck in this little sensation which has come 
into existence beside it." Now it is in the assimilation of these elementary 
sensations or affective states with the perception personnelle, as Janet terms 
it, that the advanced hysteric fails. His field of consciouness is so far 
narrowed that it can only take in the minimum of sensations necessary 
for the support of life. "One must needs have consciousness of what 
one sees and hears, and so the patient neglects to perceive the tactile and 
muscular sensations with which he thinks that he can manage to dispense. 
At first he could perhaps turn his attention to them, and recover them 
at least momentarily within the field of personal perception. But the 
occasion does not present itself, and the psychological bad habit is formed. 
. . . One day the patient — for he is now veritably a patient — is exam- 
ined by the doctor. His left arm is pinched, and he is asked whether 
he feels the pinch. To his surprise the patient realises that he can no 
longer feel consciously, can no longer bring back into his personal percep- 
tion sensations which he has neglected too long — he has become anaes- 
thetic. . . . Hysterical anaesthesia is thus a fixed and perpetual distraction, 
which renders its subjects incapable of attaching certain sensations to 
their personality; it is a restriction of the conscious field." 

The proof of these assertions depends on a number of observations, all 
of which point in the same direction, and show that hysterical anaesthesia 
does not descend so deep into the personality, so to say, as true anaesthesia 
caused by nervous decay, or by the section of a nerve. 

Thus the hysteric is often unconscious of the anaesthesia, which is only 
discovered by the physician. There is none of the distress caused by 
true anaesthesia, as, for instance, by the "tabetic mask," or insensibility 
of part of the face, which sometimes occurs in tabes dorsalis. 

An incident reported by Dr. Jules Janet illustrates this peculiarity. 
A young woman cut her right hand severely with broken glass, and com- 
plained of insensibility in the palm. The physician who examined her 
found that the sensibility of the right palm was, in fact, diminished by 


the section of certain nerves. But he discovered at the same time that 
the girl was hysterically anaesthetic over the whole left side of her body. 
She had never even found out this disability, and the doctor twitted her 
with complaining of the small patch of anaesthesia, while she said nothing 
of that which covered half her body. But, as Dr. Pierre Janet remarks, 
she might well have retorted that these were the facts, and that it was 
for the man of science to say why the small patch annoyed her while the 
large one gave her no trouble at all. 

Of similar import is the ingenious observation that hysterical anaes- 
thesia rarely leads to any accident to the limb ; — differing in this respect, 
for instance, from the true and profound anaesthesia of syringomyelitis, in 
which burns and bruises frequently result from the patient's forgetfulness 
of the part affected. There is usually, in fact, a supervision — a subliminal 
supervision — exercised over the hysteric's limbs. Part of her personality 
is still alive to the danger, and modifies her movements, unknown to her 
supraliminal self. 

This curious point, I may remark in passing, well illustrates the kind 
of action which I attribute to the subliminal self in many phases of life. 
Thus it is that the hypnotised subject is prevented (as I hold) from com- 
mitting a real as opposed to a fictitious crime; thus it is that fresh ideas 
are suggested to the man of genius ; thus it is — I will even say — that in 
some cases monitory hallucinations are generated, which save the supra- 
liminal self from some sudden danger. 

I pass on to another peculiarity of hysterical anaesthesiae; — also in 
my eyes of deep significance. The anaesthetic belts or patches do not 
always, or even generally, correspond with true anatomical areas, such as 
would be affected by the actual lesion of any given nerve. They follow 
arbitrary arrangements; — sometimes corresponding to rough popular 
notions of divisions of the body, — sometimes seeming to reflect a 
merely childish caprice. 

In these cases what is only a silly fancy seems to produce an effect 
which is not merely fanciful; — which is objective, measurable, and 
capable of causing long and serious disablement. This result, however, 
is quite accordant with my view of what I have termed the hypnotic 
stratum of the personality. I hold, as our coming discussion of hypno- 
tism will more fully explain, that the region into which the hypnotic 
suggestion gives us access is one of strangely mingled strength and 
weakness; — of a faculty at once more potent and less coherent than 
that of waking hours. I think that in these cases we get at the subliminal 
self only somewhat in the same sense as we get at the supraliminal self 


when the " highest-level centres" are for the time inoperative (as in a 
dream) and only " middle-level centres" are left to follow their own 
devices without inhibition or co-ordination. I hold that this is the 
explanation of the strange contrasts which hypnosis makes familiar to us 
— the combination of profound power over the organism with childish 
readiness to obey the merest whims of the hypnotiser. The intelligence 
which thus responds is in my view only a fragmentary intelligence; it is 
a dreamlike scrap of the subliminal self, functioning apart from that self's 
central and profounder control. 

What happens in hypnotism in obedience to the hypnotiser's caprice 
happens in hysteria in obedience to the caprice of the hypnotic stratum 
itself. Some middle-level centre of the subliminal self (to express a diffi- 
cult idea by the nearest phrase I can find) gets the notion that there is an 
"anaesthetic bracelet," say, round the left wrist; — and lo, this straight- 
way is so; and the hysteric loses supraliminal sensation in this fantastic belt. 
That the notion does not originate in the hysteric's supraliminal self is 
proved by the fact that the patient is generally unaware of the existence 
of the bracelet until the physician discovers it. Nor is it a chance com- 
bination ; — even were there such a thing as chance. It is a dream of the 
hypnotic stratum; — an incoherent self-suggestion starting from and 
affecting a region below the reach of conscious will. Such cases are most 
instructive; for they begin to show us divisions of the human body based 
not upon local innervation but upon ideation (however incoherent) ; — upon 
intellectual conceptions like "a bracelet," "a cross," — applied though 
these conceptions may be with dreamlike futility. 

In this view, then, we regard the fragments of perceptive power over 
which the hysteric has lost control as being by no means really extinguished, 
but rather as existing immediately beneath the threshold, in the custody, 
so to say, of a dreamlike or hypnotic stratum of the subliminal self, which 
has selected them for reasons sometimes explicable as the result of past 
suggestions, sometimes to us inexplicable. If this be so, we may expect 
that the same kind of suggestions which originally cut off these percep- 
tions from the main body of perception may stimulate them again to action 
either below or above the conscious threshold. 

We have already, indeed, seen reason to suppose that the submerged 
perceptions are still at work, when Dr. Janet pointed out how rare a thing 
it was that any accident or injury followed upon hysterical loss of feeling 
in the limbs. A still more curious illustration is afforded by the condi- 
tion of the field of vision in a hysteric. It often happens that the field 
of vision is much reduced, so that the hysteric, when tested with the 


perimeter, can discern only objects almost directly in front of the eye. 
But if an object which happens to be particularly exciting to the hyp- 
notic stratum — for instance the hypnotiser's finger, used often as a signal 
for trance — is advanced into that part of the hysteric's normal visual 
field of which she has apparently lost all consciousness, there will often 
be an instant subliminal perception, — shown by the fact that the subject 
promptly falls into trance. 

In such cases the action of the submerged perceptions, while pro- 
voked by very shallow artifices, continues definitely subliminal. The 
patient herself, as we say, does not know why she does not burn her anaes- 
thetic limbs, or why she suddenly falls into a trance while being subjected 
to optical tests. 

But it is equally easy to devise experiments which shall call these 
submerged sensations up again into supraliminal consciousness. A 
hysteric has lost sensation in one arm: Dr. Janet tells her that there is 
a caterpillar on that arm, and the reinforcement of attention thus gen- 
erated brings back the sensibility. 

These hysterical anaesthesias, it may be added here, may be not only 
very definite but very profound. Just as the reality, — though also 
the impermanence, — of the hysterical retrenchment of field of vision 
of which I have been speaking can be shown by optical experiments be- 
yond the patient's comprehension, so the reality of some profound organic 
hysterical insensibilities is sometimes shown by the progress of independent 
disease. A certain patient feels no hunger or thirst: this indifference might 
be simulated for a time, but her ignorance of severe inflammation of the 
bladder is easily recognisable as real. Throw her into hypnosis and 
her sensibilities return. The disease is for the first time felt, and the 
patient screams with pain. This result well illustrates one main effect 
of hypnosis, viz., to bring the organism into a more normal state. The 
deep organic anaesthesia of this patient was dangerously abnormal; the 
missing sensibility had first to be restored, although it might be desirable 
afterwards to remove the painful elements in that sensibility again, under, 
so to say, a wiser and deeper control. 

What has been said of hysterical defects of sensation might be repeated 
for motor defects. There, too, the powers of which the supraliminal self 
has lost control continue to act in obedience to subliminal promptings. 
The hysteric who squeezes the dynamometer like a weak child can exert 
great muscular force under the influence of emotion. 

Very numerous are the cases which might be cited to give a notion of 
dissolutive hysterical processes, as now observed with closer insight than 


formerly, in certain great hospitals. But, nevertheless, these hospital 
observations do not exhaust what has recently been learnt of hysteria. 
Dealing almost exclusively with a certain class of patients, they leave 
almost untouched another group, smaller, indeed, but equally instructive 
for our study. 

Hysteria is no doubt a disease, but it is by no means on that account 
an indication of initial weakness of mind, any more than an Arctic ex- 
plorer's frost-bite is an indication of bad circulation. Disease is a function 
of two variables: power of resistance and strength of injurious stimulus. 
In the case of hysteria, as in the case of frost-bite, the inborn power of 
resistance may be unusually great, and yet the stimulus may be so excessive 
that that power may be overcome. Arctic explorers have generally, of 
course, been among the most robust of men. And with some hysterics 
there is an even closer connection between initial strength and destructive 
malady. For it has often happened that the very feelings which we regard 
as characteristically civilised, characteristically honourable, have reached a 
pitch of vividness and delicacy which exposes their owners to shocks such 
as the selfish clown can never know. It would be a great mistake to sup- 
pose that all psychical upsets are due to vanity, to anger, to terror, to 
sexual passion. The instincts of personal cleanliness and of feminine 
modesty are responsible for many a breakdown of a sensitive, but not a 
relatively feeble organisation. The love of one's fellow-creatures and the 
love of God are responsible for many more. And why should it not be 
so ? There exist for many men and women stimuli far stronger than self- 
esteem or bodily desires. Human life rests more and more upon ideas 
and emotions whose relation to the conservation of the race or of the in- 
dividual is indirect and obscure. Feelings which may once have been 
utilitarian have developed wholly out of proportion to any advantage 
which they can gain for their possessor in the struggle for life. The dan- 
gers which are now most shudderingly felt are often no real risks to life 
or fortune. The aims most ardently pursued are often worse than use- 
less for man regarded as a mere over-runner of the earth. 

There is thus real psychological danger in fixing our conception of 
human character too low. Some essential lessons of a complex perturba- 
tion of personality are apt to be missed if we begin with the conviction 
that there is nothing before us but a study of decay. As I have more 
than once found need to maintain, it is his steady advance, and not his 
occasional regression, which makes the chief concern of man. 

To this side of the study of hysteria Drs. Breuer and Freud have made 
valuable contribution. Drawing their patients not from hospital wards, 


but from private practice, they have had the good fortune to encounter, 
and the penetration to understand, some remarkable cases where, unselfish 
but powerful passions have proved too much for the equilibrium of minds 
previously well-fortified both by principle and by education. 1 

"Wax to receive and marble to retain"; such, as we all have felt, is 
the human mind in moments of excitement which transcend its resistant 
powers. This may be for good or for evil, may tend to that radical change 
in ethical standpoint which is called conversion, or to the mere setting-up 
of some hysterical disability. Who shall say how far we desire to be sus- 
ceptible to stimulus? Most rash would it be to assign any fixed limit, 
or to class as inferior those whose main difference from ourselves may 
be that they feel sincerely and passionately what we feel torpidly, or per- 
haps only affect to feel. "The term degenerate," says Dr. Milne Bram- 
well, "is applied so freely and widely by some modern authors that one 
cannot help concluding that they rank as such all who do not conform to 
some primitive, savage type, possessing an imperfectly developed nervous 
system." Our "degenerates" may sometimes be in truth progenerate; 
and their perturbation may mask an evolution which we or our children 
needs must traverse when they have shown the way. 

Let us pause for a moment and consider what is here implied. We 
are getting here among the hysteriques qui menent le monde. We have 
advanced, that is to say, from the region of idees fixes of a paltry or morbid 
type to the region of idees fixes which in themselves are reasonable and 
honourable, and which become morbid only on account of their relative 
intensity. Here is the debateable ground between hysteria and genius. 
The kind of genius which we approach here is not, indeed, the purely 
intellectual form. Rather it is the "moral genius," the "genius of sanctity," 
or that "possession" by some altruistic idea which lies at the root of so 
many heroic lives. 

The hagiology of all religions offers endless examples of this type. 
That man would hardly be regarded as a great saint whose conduct seemed 
completely reasonable to the mass of mankind. The saint in consequence 
is apt to be set unduly apart, whether for veneration or for ridicule. He 
is regarded either as inspired or as morbid; when in reality all that his 
mode of life shows is that certain idees fixes, in themselves of no unworthy 
kind, have obtained such dominance that their impulsive action may 
take and retake, as accident wills, the step between the sublime and the 

1 See "Studien iiber Hysterie" (Leipsic, 1895), by Drs. Breuer and Freud. An 
account of two of these cases is given in the original edition. Vol. i. pp. 51-6. 


Martyrs, missionaries, crusaders, nihilists, — enthusiasts of any kind 
who are swayed by impulses largely below the threshold of ordinary con- 
sciousness, — these men bring to bear on human affairs a force more 
concentrated and at higher tension than deliberate reason can generate. 
They are virtually carrying out self-suggestions which have acquired the 
permanence of idees fixes. Their fixed ideas, however, are not so isolated, 
so encysted as those of true hysterics. Although more deeply and im- 
mutably rooted than their ideas on other matters, these subliminal con- 
victions are worked in with the products of supraliminal reason, and of 
course can only thus be made effective over other minds. A deep sub- 
liminal horror, generated, say, by the sight of some loathsome cruelty, 
must not only prompt hallucinations, — as it might do in the hysteric and 
has often done in the reformer as well, — it must also, if it is to work out 
its mission of reform, be held clearly before the supraliminal reason, and 
must learn to express itself in writing or speech adapted to influence 
ordinary minds. 

We may now pass from the first to the second of the categories of dis- 
integration of personality suggested at the beginning of this chapter. The 
cases which I have thus far discussed have been mainly cases of isolation 
of elements of personality. We have not dealt as yet with secondary per- 
sonalities as such. There is, however, a close connection between these 
two classes. There are cases, for example, where a kind of secondary 
state at times intervenes — a sort of bewilderment arising from confluent 
idees fixes and overrunning the whole personality. This new state is often 
preceded or accompanied by something of somnambulic change. It is 
this new feature of which we have here a first hint which seems to me of 
sufficient importance for the diagnosis of my second class of psychical 
disintegrations. This second class starts from sleep-wakings of all kinds, 
and includes all stages of alternation of personality, from brief somnam- 
bulisms up to those permanent and thorough changes which deserve the 
name of dimorphisms. 

We are making here a transition somewhat resembling the transition 
from isolated bodily injuries to those subtler changes of diathesis which 
change of climate or of nutrition may induce. Something has happened 
which makes the organism react to all stimuli in a new way. Our best 
starting-point for the study of these secondary states lies among the 
phenomena of dream. 

We shall in a later chapter discuss certain rare characteristics of dreams ; 
occasional manifestations in sleep of waking faculty heightened, or of 


faculty altogether new. We have now to consider ordinary dreams in 
their aspect as indications of the structure of our personality, and as 
agencies which tend to its modification. 

In the first place, it should be borne in mind that the dreaming state, 
though I will not call it the normal form of mentation, is nevertheless 
the form which our mentation most readily and habitually assumes. 
Dreams of a kind are probably going on within us both by night and 
by day, unchecked by any degree of tension of waking thought. This 
view — theoretically probable — seems to me to be supported by one's 
own actual experience in momentary dozes or even momentary lapses 
of attention. The condition of which one then becomes conscious 
is that of swarming fragments of thought or imagery, which have 
apparently been going on continuously, though one may become aware 
of them and then unaware at momentary intervals ; — while one tries, for 
instance, to listen to a speech or to read a book aloud between sleep and 

This, then, is the kind of mentation from which our clearer and more 
coherent states may be supposed to develop. Waking life implies a fixa- 
tion of attention on one thread of thought running through a tangled skein. 
In hysterical patients we see some cases where no such fixation is possible, 
and other cases where the fixation is involuntary, or follows a thread which 
it is not desirable to pursue. 

There is, moreover, another peculiarity of dreams which has hardly 
attracted sufficient notice from psychologists, but which it is essential to 
review when we are dealing with fractionations of personality. 1 I allude 
to their dramatic character. In dream, to begin with, we have an environ- 
ment, a surrounding scene which we have not wittingly invented, but 
which we find, as it were, awaiting our entry. And in many cases our 
dream contains a conversation in which we await with eagerness and hear 
with surprise the remarks of our interlocutor, who must, of course, all the 
time represent only another segment or stratum of ourselves. This dupli- 
cation may become either painful or pleasant. A feverish dream may 
simulate the confusions of insanity — cases where the patient believes 
himself to be two persons at once, and the like. [See R. L. Steven- 
son's dream, given in Appendix II. A.] These complications rarely 
cause the dreamer any surprise. One may even say that with the first 
touch of sleep the superficial unity of consciousness disappears, and 
that the dream world gives a truer representation than the waking world 

1 On this subject see Du Prel, Philosophy of Mysticism, Eng. trans., vol. i., 


of the real fractionation or multiplicity existing beneath that delusive 
simplicity which the glare of waking consciousness imposes upon the 
mental field of view. 

Bearing these analogies in mind, we shall see that the development of 
somnambulism out of ordinary dream is no isolated oddity. It is parallel 
to the development of a secondary state from idles -fixes when these have 
passed a certain pitch of intensity. The sleep-waking states which develop 
from sleep have the characteristics which we should expect from their 
largely subliminal origin. They are less coherent than waking secondary 
personalities, but richer in supernormal faculty. It is in connection with 
displays of such faculty — hyperesthesia or telaesthesia — that they have 
been mainly observed, and that I shall, in a future chapter, have most need 
to deal with them. But there is also great interest simply in observing what 
fraction of the sleep-waker's personality is able to hold intercourse with 
other minds. A trivial instance of such intercourse reduced to its lowest 
point has often recurred to me. When I was a boy another boy sleeping 
in the same room began to talk in his sleep. To some slight extent he 
could answer me; and the names and other words uttered — Harry, the 
boat, etc. — were appropriate to the day's incidents, and would have been 
enough to prove to me, had I not otherwise known, who the boy was. But 
his few coherent remarks represented not facts but dreaming fancies — 
the boat is waiting, and so forth. This trivial jumble, I say, has since re- 
curred to me as precisely parallel to many communications professing to 
come from disembodied spirits. There are other explanations, no doubt, 
but one explanation of such incoherent utterances would be that the spirit 
was speaking under conditions resembling those in which this sleeping 
boy spoke. 

There are, of course, many stages above this. Spontaneous somnam- 
bulistic states become longer in duration, more coherent in content, and 
may gradually merge, as in the well-known case of Felida X. (see Appen- 
dix II. C) into a continuous or dimorphic new personality. 

The transition which has now to be made is a very decided one. We 
have been dealing with a class of secondary personalities consisting of 
elements emotionally selected from the total or primary personality. We 
have seen some special group of feelings grow to morbid intensity, until at 
last it dominates the sufferer's mental being, either fitfully or continuously, 
but to such an extent that he is "a changed person," not precisely insane, 
but quite other than he was when in normal mental health. In such 
cases the new personality is of course dyed in the morbid emotion. It 
is a kind of dramatic impersonation, say, of jealousy, or of fear, like the 


case of " demoniacal possession," quoted from Dr. Janet in Appendix II. 
B. In other respects the severance between the new and the old self is 
not very profound. Dissociations of memory, for instance, are seldom 
beyond the reach of hypnotic suggestion. The cleavage has not gone 
down to the depths of the psychical being. 

We must now go on to cases where the origin of the cleavage seems 
to us quite arbitrary, but where the cleavage itself seems even for that 
very reason to be more profound. It is no longer a question of some one 
morbidly exaggerated emotion, but rather of a scrap of the personality 
taken at random and developing apart from the rest. 

The commonest mode of origin for such secondary personalities is 
from some access of sleep-waking, which, instead of merging into sleep 
again, repeats and consolidates itself, until it acquires a chain of memories 
of its own, alternating with the primary chain. 1 

And now, as an illustration of a secondary condition purely degen- 
erative, I may first mention post-epileptic states, although they belong too 
definitely to pathology for full discussion here. Post-epileptic conditions 
may run parallel to almost all the secondary phases which we have de- 
scribed. They may to all outward semblance closely resemble normality, 

— differing mainly by a lack of rational purpose, and perhaps by a recur- 
rence to the habits and ideas of some earlier moment in the patient's 
history. Such a condition resembles some hypnotic trances, and some 
factitious personalities as developed by automatic writing. Or, again, the 
post-epileptic state may resemble a suddenly developed idee fixe triumphing 
over all restraint, and may prompt to serious crime, abhorrent to the nor- 
mal, but premeditated in the morbid state. There could not, in fact, be 
a better example of the unchecked rule of middle-level centres; — no 
longer secretly controlled, as in hypnotic trance, by the higher-level centres, 

— which centres in the epileptic are in a state not merely of psychological 
abeyance, but of physiological exhaustion. 2 

The case of Ansel Bourne is interesting in this connection. 3 Subject 

1 An old case of Dr. Dyce's (see The Zoist, vol. iv. p. 158) forms a simple 
example of this type. Dr. Mesnet's case (De V Automatisme de la Memoire, etc. 
Par le Dr. Ernest Mesnet, Paris, 1874, p. 18, seq.) should also be referred to here. 
In these instances the secondary state is manifestly a degeneration of the primary 
state, even when certain traces of supernormal faculty are discernible in the 
narrowed psychical field. 

See The Zoist, vol. iv. pp. 172-79, for a case showing the inevitable accomplish- 
ment of a post-epileptic crime in such a way as to bring out its analogy with the 
inevitable working out of a post-hypnotic suggestion. 

3 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vii. pp. 221-258 [225 A]. 


from childhood to fits of deep depression, and presenting in later life 
symptoms suggestive of epilepsy, Ansel Bourne was struck down in his 
thirty-first year by what was supposed to be a severe sunstroke. Con- 
nected with this event were circumstances which led to a profound re- 
ligious conversion. At sixty-one years of age, being at that time an 
itinerant preacher, and living in the small town of Greene, in the State of 
Rhode Island, Ansel Bourne disappeared one morning, whilst apparently 
in his usual state of health, and remained undiscovered for a period of 
two months. At the end of this time he turned up at Norristown, Penn- 
sylvania, where for the previous six weeks he had been keeping a small 
variety store under the name of A. J. Brown, appearing to his neigh- 
bours and customers as an ordinary normal person, but being, as it 
would seem, in a somnambulistic condition all the while. When he 
regained his ordinary waking consciousness, Ansel Bourne lost all 
memory of his actions while in his secondary state. In the year 1890, 
however, having been hypnotised by Professor James, he was able while 
in the trance state to give an account of his doings during the eight weeks 
that the Brown personality lasted. 

In this case it is perhaps safest to regard the change of personality 
as post-epileptic, although I know of no recorded parallel to the length 
of time during which the influence of the attack must have continued. 
The effect on mind and character would suit well enough with this hypo- 
thesis. The "Brown" personality showed the narrowness of interests 
and the uninquiring indifference which is common in such states. But 
on this theory the case shows one striking novelty, namely, the recall 
by the aid of hypnotism of the memory of the post-epileptic state. It 
is doubtful, I think, whether any definite post-epileptic memory had 
ever previously been recovered. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether 
serious recourse had ever been had at such times to hypnotic methods, 
whose increasing employment certainly differentiates the latter from 
the earlier cases of split personality in a very favourable way. And this 
application of hypnotism to post-epileptic states affords us possibly our 
best chance — I do not say of directly checking epilepsy, but of getting 
down to the obscure conditions which predispose to each attack. 

Next we may mention two cases reported by Dr. Proust and M. 
Boeteau. Dr. Proust's patient, 1 Emile X., aged thirty-three, was a barrister 
in Paris. Although of good ability and education in classical studies, both 
as a boy and at the university he was always nervous and over sensitive, 
showing signs, in fact, of la grande hysterie. During his attacks he ap- 

1 See Revue de VHypnotisme, March 1890, p. 267 [226 A], 


parently underwent no loss of consciousness, but would lose the memory 
of all his past life during a few minutes or a few days, and in this con- 
dition of secondary consciousness would lead an active and apparently 
normal life. From such a state he woke suddenly, and was entirely 
without memory of what had happened to him in this secondary state. 
This memory was, however, restored by hypnotism. 

M. Boeteau's patient, Marie M., 1 had been subject to hysterical at- 
tacks since she was twelve years old. She became an out-patient at the 
Hopital Andral for these attacks: and on April 24, 1891, being then twenty- 
two years old, the house physician there advised her to enter the surgical 
ward at the Hotel-Dieu, as she would probably need an operation for 
an internal trouble. Greatly shocked by this news, she left the hospital 
at ten a.m., and lost consciousness. When she recovered consciousness 
she found herself in quite another hospital — that of Ste. Anne — at 
six a.m. on April 27. She had been found wandering in the streets of 
Paris, in the evening of the day on which she left the Hopital Andral. 
On returning to herself, she could recollect absolutely nothing of what 
had passed in the interval. While she was thus perplexed at her un- 
explained fatigue and footsoreness, and at the gap in her memory, M. 
Boeteau hypnotised her. She passed with ease into the hypnotic state, 
and at once remembered the events which filled at least the earlier part 
of the gap in her primary consciousness. 

These two cases belong to the same general type as Ansel Bourne's. 
There does not seem, however, to be any definite evidence that the sec- 
ondary state was connected with epileptic attacks. It was referred rather 
by the physicians who witnessed it to a functional derangement ana- 
logous to hysteria, though it must be remembered that there are various 
forms of epilepsy which are not completely understood, and some of 
which may be overlooked by persons who are not familiar with the symp- 

Another remarkable case is that of the Rev. Thomas C. Hanna, 2 in 
whom complete amnesia followed an accident. By means of a method 
which Dr. Sidis (who studied the case) calls "hypnoidisation," he was 
able to prove that the patient had all his lost memories stored in his 
subliminal consciousness, and could temporarily recall them to the 
supraliminal. By degrees the two personalities which had developed 

1 See the Annates Medico-Psychologiques for January 1892 [226 B]. 

2 For full details of this, see Dr. Boris Sidis's work, The Psychology of Suggestion: 
a Research into the Subconscious Nature 0} Man and Society (New York, 1898), 
and Multiple Personality by Drs. Boris Sidis and S. P. Goodhart. London, 1905. 


since the accident were thus fused into one and the patient was com- 
pletely cured. 

For another case of the ambulatory type, like Ansel Bourne's, but 
remarkable in that it was associated with a definite physical lesion — 
an abscess in the ear — the cure of which was followed by the rapid 
return of the patient to his normal condition, see Dr. Drewry's article 
in the Medico-Legal Journal for June 1896 [228 A]. 

Again, in a case reported by Dr. David Skae, 1 the secondary state 
seems to owe its origin to a kind of tidal exhaustion of vitality, as though 
the repose of sleep were not enough to sustain the weakened personality, 
which lapsed on alternate days into exhaustion and incoherence. 

The secondary personalities thus far dealt with have been the spon- 
taneous results of some form of misere psychologique, of defective integra- 
tion of the psychical being. But there are also cases where, the cohesion 
being thus released, a slight touch from without can effect dissociations 
which, however shallow and almost playful in their first inception, may 
stiffen by repetition into phases as marked and definite as those secondary 
states which spring up of themselves, that is to say, from self-sugges- 
tions which we cannot trace. In Professor Janet's V Automatisme Psy- 
chologique the reader will find some instructive examples of these fictitious 
secondary personalities [230 A and B]. 

Up to this point the secondary states which we have considered, how- 
ever startling to old-fashioned ideas of personality, may, at any rate, be 
regarded as forms of mental derangement or decay — varieties on a theme 
already known. Now, however, we approach a group of cases to which it 
is difficult to make any such definition apply. They are cases where the 
secondary state is not obviously a degeneration; — where it may even 
appear to be in some ways an improvement on the primary; so that one is 
left wondering how it came about that the man either originally was what 
he was, or — being what he was — suddenly became something so very 
different. There has been a shake given to the kaleidoscope, and no one 
can say why either arrangement of the component pieces should have had 
the priority. 

In the classical case of Felida X. the second state is, as regards health 
and happiness, markedly superior to the first. (See Appendix II. C.) 

The old case of Mary Reynolds 2 is again remarkable in respect of the 
change of character involved. The deliverance from gloomy preoccupa- 
tions — the childish insouciance of the secondary state — again illustrates 

1 Zoist vol. iv. p. 185 [229 A]. 

2 See Professor W. James's Principles of Psychology, vol. 1. pp. 381-84 [232 A]. 


the difference between these allotropic changes or reconstructions of per- 
sonality and that mere predominance of a morbid factor which marked 
the cases of idee fixe and hysteria. Observe, also, in Mary Reynolds's 
case the tendency of the two states gradually to coalesce apparently in a 
third phase likely to be preferable to either of the two already known. 

We now come to spontaneous cases of multiple personality, of 
which Louis Vive's is one of the best known. Louis Vive exhibited an 
extraordinary number and variety of phases of personality, affording an 
extreme example of dissociations dependent on time-relations, on the 
special epoch of life in which the subject was ordered to find himself. 1 
Among various conditions of his organism — all but one of them imply- 
ing, or at least simulating, some grave central lesion — any given con- 
dition could be revived in a moment, and the whole gamut of changes 
rung on his nervous system as easily as if one were setting back or for- 
ward a continuous cinematograph. It is hard to frame a theory of 
memory which shall admit of these sudden reversions, — of playing fast 
and loose in this manner with the accumulated impressions of years. 

Yet if Louis Vive's case thus strangely intensifies the already puzzling 
notion of ecmnesia — as though the whole organism could be tricked into 
forgetting the events which had most deeply stamped it — what are we to 
say to Dr. Morton Prince's case of " Sally Beauchamp," 2 with its grotesque 
exaggeration of a subliminal self — a kind of hostile bedfellow which 
knows everything and remembers everything — which mocks the emotions 
and thwarts the projects of the ordinary reasonable self which can be seen 
and known? The case must be studied in full as it stands; its later 
developments may help to unravel the mysteries which its earlier stages 
have already woven. 3 

I quote in full in the text the next case, reported by Dr. R. Osgood 

1 For Dr. Camuset's account see Annates Medico-Psychologiques, 1882, p. 75; 
for Dr. Voisin's, Archives de Nevrotogie, September 1885. The observations at 
Rochefort have been carefully recorded by Dr. Berjon, La Grande Hysterie chez 
VHomme, Paris, 1886, and by Drs. Bourru and Burot in a treatise, De la suggestion 
mentale, &c. (Bibl. scientifique contemporaine) , Paris, 1887 [233 A]. 

2 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xv. pp. 466-483 [234 A] and the more complete 
account given in Dr. Morton Prince's Dissociation of a Personality. New York 
and London, 1906. 

3 Besides the cases mentioned above see a remarkable recent case recorded by 
Dr. Bramwell in Brain, Summer Number, 1900, on the authority of Dr. Albert 
Wilson, of Leytonstone. Dr. Wilson has given a detailed account of his patient, 
Mary Barnes, in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xviii. pp. 352-416, where a full dis- 
cussion of the case will also be found. Mary Barnes developed sixteen different 
personalities with distinct memories and different characteristics. 


Mason (in a paper entitled " Duplex Personality: its Relation to Hyp- 
notism and to Lucidity," in the Journal oj the American Medical Asso- 
ciation, November 30th, 1895). Dr. Mason writes: — 

Alma Z. was an unusually healthy and intellectual girl, a strong and 
attractive character, a leading spirit in whatever she undertook, whether 
in study, sport, or society. From overwork in school, and overtaxed 
strength in a case of sickness at home, her health was completely broken 
down, and after two years of great suffering suddenly a second personality 
appeared. In a peculiar child-like and Indian-like dialect she announced 
herself as " Twoey," and that she had come to help "Number One" in her 
suffering. The condition of " Number One" was at this time most de- 
plorable; there was great pain, extreme debility, frequent attacks of syn- 
cope, insomnia, and a mercurial stomatitis which had been kept up for 
months by way of medical treatment and which rendered it nearly im- 
possible to take nourishment in any form. "Twoey" was vivacious and 
cheerful, full of quaint and witty talk, never lost consciousness, and could 
take abundant nourishment, which she declared she must do for the sake 
of "Number One." Her talk was most quaint and fascinating, but with- 
out a trace of the acquired knowledge of the primary personality. She 
gave frequent evidence of supranormal intelligence regarding events 
transpiring in the neighbourhood. It was at this time that the case came 
under my observation, and has remained so for the past ten years. Four 
years later, under depressing circumstances, a third personality made 
its appearance and announced itself as "The Boy." This personality 
was entirely distinct and different from either of the others. It remained 
the chief alternating personality for four years, when "Twoey" again 

All these personalities, though absolutely different and characteristic, 
were delightful each in its own way, and "Twoey" especially was, and 
still is, the delight of the friends who are permitted to know her, when- 
ever she makes her appearance; and this is always at times of unusual 
fatigue, mental excitement, or prostration; then she comes and remains 
days at a time. The original self retains her superiority when she is present, 
and the others are always perfectly devoted to her interest and comfort. 
"Number One" has no personal knowledge of either of the other per- 
sonalities, but she knows them well, and especially "Twoey," from the 
report of others and from characteristic letters which are often received 
from her; and "Number One" greatly enjoys the spicy, witty, and often 
useful messages which come to her through these letters and the report 
of friends. 

Dr. Mason goes on to say: — 

Here are three cases [the one just given, that of another patient of 
his own, and that of Felida X] in which a second personality — perfectly 
sane, thoroughly practical, and perfectly in touch and harmony with its 
surroundings — came to the surface, so to speak, and assumed absolute 
control of the physical organisation for long periods of time together. 


During the stay of the second personality the primary or original self 
was entirely blotted out, and the time so occupied was a blank. In neither 
of the cases described had the primary self any knowledge of the second 
personality, except from the report of others or letters from the second 
self, left where they could be found on the return of the primary self to 
consciousness. The second personality, on the other hand, in each case, 
knew of the primary self, but only as another person — never as forming 
a part of, or in any way belonging to their own personalities. In the case 
of both Felida X. and Alma Z., there was always immediate and marked 
improvement in the physical condition when the second personality made 
its appearance. 

The case of Mollie Fancher, 1 which, had it been observed and recorded 
with scientific accuracy, might have been one of the most instructive 
of all, seems to stand midway between the transformations of Louis Vive 
— each of them frankly himself at a different epoch of life — and the 
" pseudo-possessions " of imaginary spirits with which we shall in a later 
chapter have to deal. 

The case of Anna Winsor 2 goes so far further in its suggestion of in- 
terference from without that it presents to us, at any rate, a contrast and 
even conflict between positive insanity on the part of the organism gen- 
erally with wise and watchful sanity on the part of a single limb, with 
which that organism professes to have no longer any concern. 

The last case 3 that I shall mention is that of Miss Mary Lurancy 
Vennum, the "Watseka Wonder." 

The case briefly is one of alleged " possession," or "spirit-control." 
The subject of the account, a girl nearly fourteen years old, living at Wat- 
seka, Illinois, became apparently controlled by the spirit of Mary RofT, 
a neighbour's daughter, who had died at the age of eighteen years and 
nine months, when Lurancy Vennum was a child of about fifteen months 
old. The most extraordinary feature in the case was that the control, 
by Mary Roff lasted almost continuously for a period of four months. 

For the present we must consider this case as a duplication of per- 
sonality — a pseudo-possession, if you will — determined in a hysterical 
child by the suggestion of friends, but at a later stage, and when some 
other wonders have become more familiar than now, we may find that 
this singular narrative has further lessons to teach us. 

We have now briefly surveyed a series of disintegrations of personality 

1 Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiv. 396-398 [236 A], 

2 Proceedings of American S.P.R., vol. i. p. 552 [237 A]. 

For a detaifed record of this case see the Religio-Philosophical Journal for 
1879. An abridgment is given in [238 A]. See also Journal S.P.R., vol. x. p. 99. 


ranging from the most trifling idee fixe to actual alternations or permanent 
changes of the whole type of character. All these form a kind of con- 
tinuous series, and illustrate the structure of the personality in concordant 
ways. There do exist, it must be added, other forms of modified per- 
sonality with which I shall not at present deal. Those are cases where 
some telepathic influence from outside has been at work, so that there is 
not merely dissociation of existing elements, but apparent introduction of a 
novel element. Such cases also pass through a long series, from small 
phenomena of motor automatism up to trance and so-called possession. 
But all this group I mention here merely in order to defer their discussion 
to later chapters. 

The brief review already made will suffice to indicate the complex and 
separable nature of the elements of human personality. Of course a far 
fuller list might have been given; many phenomena of actual insanity 
would need to be cited in any complete conspectus. But hysteria is in 
some ways a better dissecting agent than any other where delicate psychical 
dissociations are concerned. Just as the microscopist stains a particular 
tissue for observation, so does hysteria stain with definiteness, as it were, 
particular synergies — definite complexes of thought and action — more 
manifestly than any grosser lesion, any more profound or persistent injury 
could do. Hysterical mutism, for instance (the observation is Charcot's 1 ), 
supplies almost the only cases where the faculty of vocal utterance is at- 
tacked in a quite isolated way. In aphasia dependent upon organic injury 
we generally find other word-memories attacked also, — elements of 
agraphy, of word-blindness, of word-deafness appear. In the hysteric the 
incapacity to speak may be the single symptom. So with anaesthesia?; we 
find in hysteria a separation of sensibility to heat and to pain, possibly even 
a separate subsistence of electrical sensibility. It is worth remarking here 
that it was during the hypnotic trance, which in delicacy of discriminating 
power resembles hysteria, that (so far as I can make out) the distinctness 
of the temperature-sense from the pain-sense was first observed. Esdaile, 
when removing tumours under mesmerism in Calcutta, noticed that 
patients, who were actually undergoing capital operations without a 
murmur, complained if a draught blew in upon them from an open window. 

Nor is it only as a dissecting agent that hysteria can aid our research. 
There are in hysteria frequent acquisitions as well as losses of faculty. It 
is not unusual to find great hyperesthesia in certain special directions — 
of touch, hearing, perception of light, etc. — combined with hysterical 
loss of sensation of other kinds. This subject will be more conveniently 
1 Revue de VHypnotisme, July 1889. 


treated along with the hyperesthesia of the hypnotic trance. But I may 
note here that just such occasional quickenings of faculty were, in my 
view, almost certain to accompany that instability of psychical threshold 
which is the distinguishing characteristic of hysteria, since I hold that 
subliminal faculty habitually overpasses supraliminal. These also are 
a kind of capricious idees fixes; only the caprice in such cases raises what 
was previously submerged instead of exaggerating what was previously 

And from this point it is that our inquiries must now take their fresh 
departure. We in this work are concerned with changes which are the 
converse of hysterical changes. We are looking for integrations in lieu of 
disintegrations; for intensifications of control, widenings of faculty, instead 
of relaxation, scattering, or decay. 

Suppose, then, that in a case of instability of the psychical threshold, 
— ready permeability, if you will, of the psychical diaphragm separating 
the supraliminal from the subliminal self, — the elements of emergence 
tend to increase and the elements of submergence to diminish. Suppose 
that the permeability depends upon the force of the uprushes from below 
the diaphragm rather than on the tendency to sink downwards from above 
it. We shall then reach the point where the vague name of hysteria must 
give place to the vague name of genius. The uprushes from the sub- 
liminal self will now be the important feature; the down-draught from 
the supraliminal, if it still exists, will be trivial in comparison. The con- 
tent of the uprush will be congruous with the train of voluntary thought; 
and the man of genius will be a man more capable than others of utilising 
for his waking purposes the subliminal region of his being. 

Next in order to the uprushes of genius will come the uprushes of dream. 
All men pass normally and healthily into a second phase of personality, 
alternating with the first. That is sleep, and sleep is characterised by those 
incoherent forms of subliminal uprush which we know as dreams. It is 
here that our evidence for telepathy and telaesthesia will first present itself 
for discussion. Sleep will indicate the existence of submerged faculty of 
a rarer type than even that to which genius has already testified. 

There are, moreover, other states, both spontaneous and induced, 
analogous to sleep, and these will form the subject of the fifth chapter, 
that on Hypnotism. Hypnotism, however, does not mean trance or som- 
nambulism only. It is a name, if not for the whole ensemble, yet for a 
large group of those artifices which we have as yet discovered for the pur- 
pose of eliciting and utilising subliminal faculty. The results of hypnotic 
suggestion will be found to imitate sometimes the subliminal uprushes 


of genius, and sometimes the visions of spontaneous somnambulism; while 
they also open to us fresh and characteristic accesses into subliminal 
knowledge and power. 

Further than this point our immediate forecast need not go. But 
when we have completed the survey here indicated, we shall see, I think, 
how significant are the phenomena of hysteria in any psychological scheme 
which aims at including the hidden powers of man. For much as the 
hysteric stands in comparison to us ordinary men, so perhaps do we 
ordinary men stand in comparison with a not impossible ideal of faculty 
and of self-control. 

But apart from these broader speculations, it has become evident 
that disturbances of personality are not mere empty marvels, but psycho- 
pathological problems of the utmost interest : — no one of them exactly 
like another, and no one of them without some possible apergu into the 
intimate structure of man. 

The purpose of this book, of course, is not primarily practical. It 
aims rather at the satisfaction of scientific curiosity as to man's psychical 
structure; esteeming that as a form of experimental research which the 
more urgent needs of therapeutics have kept in the background too long. 
Yet it may not have been amiss to realise thus, on the threshold of our 
discussion, that already even the most delicate speculations in this line 
have found their justification in helpful act; that strange bewilderments, 
paralysing perturbations, which no treatment could alleviate, no drug 
control, have been soothed and stablished into sanity by some appropriate 
and sagacious mode of appeal to a natura medicatrix deep-hidden in the 
labouring breast. 


Igneus est ollis vigor et coelestis origo 
Seminibus, quantum non noxia corpora tardant 
Terrenique hebetant artus moribundaque membra. 

— Virgil. 

In my second chapter I made no formal attempt to define that human 
personality which is to form the main subject of this book. I was con- 
tent to take the conception roughly for granted, and to enter at once on 
the study of the lapses of personality into abnormal conditions, — short 
of the lowest depths of idiocy or madness. From that survey it appeared 
that these degenerations could be traced to some defect in that central 
control which ought to clasp and integrate into steady manhood the hie- 
rarchies of living cells which compose the human organism. This insight 
into the Self's decay was the needed prerequisite to our present task — 
that of apprehending its true normality, and thereafter of analysing certain 
obscurer faculties which indicate the line of its evolution during and after 
the life of earth. 

Strength and concentration of the inward unifying control — that 
must be the true normality which we seek; and in seeking it we must re- 
member how much of psychical operation goes on below the conscious 
threshold, imperfectly obedient to any supraliminal appeal. What advance 
can we make in inward mastery ? how far extend our grasp over the whole 
range of faculty with which we are obscurely endowed? 

"Human perfectibility" has been the theme of many enthusiasts; 
and many Utopian schemes of society have been and still are suggested, 
which postulate in the men and women of the future an increase in moral 
and physical health and vigour. And it is plain that in a broad and general 
way natural selection, sexual selection, and the advance of science are 
working together towards improvements of these kinds. But it is plain 
also that these onward tendencies, at least in comparison with our desires 
and ideals, are slow and uncertain; and it is possible to argue that the 



apparent advance in our race is due merely to the improvement which 
science has affected in its material environment, and not to any real de- 
velopment, during the historical period, in the character or faculties of 
man himself. Nay, since we have no means of knowing to what extent 
any genus has an inward potentiality of improvement, it is possible for 
the pessimist to argue that the genus homo has reached its fore-ordained 
evolutionary limit; so that it cannot be pushed further in any direction 
without risk of nervous instability, sterility, and ultimate extinction. Some 
dim apprehension of this kind lends plausibility to many popular dia- 
tribes. Dr. Max Nordau's works afford a well-known example of this 
line of protest against the present age as an age of overwork and of 
nervous exhaustion. And narrowing the vague discussion to a somewhat 
more definite test, Professor Lombroso and other anthropologists have 
discussed the characteristics of the "man of genius"; with the result of 
showing (as they believe) that this apparently highest product of the 
race is in reality not a culminant but an aberrant manifestation; and 
that men of genius must be classed with criminals and lunatics, as 
persons in whom a want of balance or completeness of organisation has 
led on to an over-development of one side of the nature; — helpful or 
injurious to other men as accident may decide. 

On this point I shall join issue; and I shall suggest, on the other hand, 
that Genius — if that vaguely used word is to receive anything like a 
psychological definition — should rather be regarded as a power of utilising 
a wider range than other men can utilise of faculties in some degree innate 
in all; — a power of appropriating the results of subliminal mentation 
to subserve the supraliminal stream of thought; — so that an "inspiration 
of Genius" will be in truth a subliminal uprush, an emergence into the 
current of ideas which the man is consciously manipulating of other ideas 
which he has not consciously originated, but which have shaped them- 
selves beyond his will, in profounder regions of his being. I shall urge 
that there is here no real departure from normality; no abnormality, at 
least in the sense of degeneration; but rather a fulfilment of the true norm 
of man, with suggestions, it may be, of something supernormal; — of 
something which transcends existing normality as an advanced stage of 
evolutionary progress transcends an earlier stage. 

But before proceeding further I wish to guard against a possible mis- 
apprehension. I shall be obliged in this chapter to dwell on valuable 
aid rendered by subliminal mentation; but I do not mean to imply that 
such mentation is ipso facto superior to supraliminal, or even that it covers 
a large proportion of practically useful human achievement. When I 


say " The differentia of genius lies in an increased control over subliminal 
mentation," I express, I think, a well-evidenced thesis, and I suggest an 
important inference, — namely, that the man of genius is for us the best 
type of the normal man, in so far as he effects a successful co-operation 
of an unusually large number of elements of his personality — reaching 
a stage of integration slightly in advance of our own. Thus much I wish 
to say: but my thesis is not to be pushed further: — as though I claimed 
that all our best thought was subliminal, or that all that was subliminal 
was potentially " inspiration." 

It is true, however, that the range of our subliminal mentation is more 
extended than the range of our supraliminal. At one end of the scale 
we find dreams , — a normal subliminal product, but of less practical 
value than any form of sane supraliminal thought. At the other end of 
the scale we find that the rarest, most precious knowledge comes to us 
from outside the ordinary field, — through the eminently subliminal 
processes of telepathy, telaesthesia, ecstasy. And between these two 
extremes lie many subliminal products, varying in value according to 
the dignity and trustworthiness of the subliminal mentation concerned. 

This last phrase — inevitably obscure — may be illustrated by refer- 
ence to that hierarchical arrangement of supraliminal action and percep- 
tion which Dr. Hughlings Jackson has so used as to clear up much previous 
confusion of thought. Following him, we now speak of highest-level 
nerve-centres, governing our highest, most complex thought and will; 
of middle-level centres, governing movements of voluntary muscles, and 
the like; and of lowest-level centres (which from my point of view are 
purely subliminal), governing those automatic processes, as respiration 
and circulation, which are independent of conscious rule, but necessary 
to the maintenance of life. We can roughly judge from the nature of any 
observed action whether the highest-level centres are directing it, or whether 
they are for the time inhibited, so that middle-level centres operate un- 

Thus ordinary speech and writing are ruled by highest-level centres. 
But when an epileptic discharge of nervous energy has exhausted the 
highest-level centres, we see the middle-level centres operating unchecked, 
and producing the convulsive movements of arms and legs in the "fit." 
As these centres in their turn become exhausted, the patient is left to 
the guidance of lowest-level centres alone; — that is to say, he becomes 
comatose, though he continues to breathe as regularly as usual. 

Now this series of phenomena, — descending in coherence and co- 
ordination from an active consensus of the whole organism to a mere 


automatic maintenance of its most stably organised processes, — may 
be pretty closely paralleled by the series of subliminal phenomena also. 

Sometimes we seem to see our subliminal perceptions and faculties 
acting truly in unity, truly as a Self; — co-ordinated into some harmonious 
" inspiration of genius," or some profound and reasonable hypnotic self- 
reformation, or some far-reaching supernormal achievement of clairvoyant 
vision or of self-projection into a spiritual world. Whatever of subliminal 
personality is thus acting corresponds with the highest-level centres of 
supraliminal life. At such moments the subliminal represents (as I believe) 
most nearly what will become the surviving Self. 

But it seems that this degree of clarity, of integration, cannot be long 
preserved. Much oftener we find the subliminal perceptions and facul- 
ties acting in less co-ordinated, less coherent ways. We have products 
which, while containing traces of some faculty beyond our common scope, 
involve, nevertheless, something as random and meaningless as the dis- 
charge of the uncontrolled middle-level centres of arms and legs in the 
epileptic fit. We get, in short, a series of phenomena which the term 
dream-like seems best to describe. 

In the realm of genius, — of uprushes of thought and feeling fused 
beneath the conscious threshold into artistic shape, — we get no longer 
masterpieces but half-insanities, — not the Sistine Madonna, but Wiertz's 
Vision of the Guillotined Head; not Kubla Khan, but the disordered 
opium dream. Throughout all the work of William Blake (I should say) 
we see the subliminal self flashing for moments into unity, then smoulder- 
ing again in a lurid and scattered glow. 

In the realm of hypnotism, again, we sink from the reasonable self- 
suggestion to the " platform experiments," — the smelling of ammonia, 
the eating of tallow candles; — all the tricks which show a profound control, 
but not a wise control, over the arcana of organic life. I speak, of course, 
of the subject's own control over his organism; for in the last resort it is 
he and not his hypnotiser who really exercises that directive power. And 
I compare these tricks of middle-level subliminal centres to the powerful 
yet irrational control which the middle-level centres ruling the epileptic's 
arms and legs exercise over his muscles in the violence of the epileptic 

And so again with the automatisms which are, one may say, the 
subliminal self's peculiar province. Automatic script, for instance, may 
represent highest-level subliminal centres, even when no extraneous spirit, 
but the automatist's own mind alone, is concerned. It will then give 
us true telepathic messages, or perhaps messages of high moral import, 


surpassing the automatist's conscious powers. But much oftener the 
automatic script is regulated by what I have called middle-level subliminal 
centres only; — and then, though we may have scraps of supernormal 
intelligence, we have confusion and incoherence as well. We have the 
falsity which the disgusted automatist is sometimes fain to ascribe to a 
devil; though it is in reality not a devil, but a dream. 

And hence again, just as the epileptic sinks lower and lower in the 
fit, — from the incoordinated movements of the limbs down to the mere 
stertorous breathing of coma, — so do these incoherent automatisms 
sink down at last, through the utterances and drawings of the degenerate 
and the paranoiac, — through mere fragmentary dreams, or vague im- 
personal bewilderment, — into the minimum psychical concomitant, 
whatever that be, which must coexist with brain-circulation. 

Such is the apparent parallelism; but of course no knowledge of a 
hierarchy of the familiar forms of nervous action can really explain to us 
the mysterious fluctuations of subliminal power. 

When we speak of the highest-level and other centres which govern 
our supraliminal being, and which are fitted to direct this planetary life 
in a material world, we can to some extent point out actual brain-centres 
whose action enables us to meet those needs. What are the needs of 
our cosmic life we do not know; nor can we indicate any point in our 
organism (as in the "solar plexus," or the like), which is adapted to 
meet them. We cannot even either affirm or deny that such spiritual 
life as we maintain while incarnated in this material envelope involves 
any physical concomitants at all. 

For my part, I feel forced to fall back upon the old-world conception 
of a soul which exercises an imperfect and fluctuating control over the 
organism; and exercises that control, I would add, along two main chan- 
nels, only partly coincident — that of ordinary consciousness, adapted 
to the maintenance and guidance of earth-life; and that of subliminal 
consciousness, adapted to the maintenance of our larger spiritual life 
during our confinement in the flesh. 

We men, therefore, clausi tenebris et carcere cceco, can sometimes widen, 
as we must sometimes narrow, our outlook on the reality of things. In 
mania or epilepsy we lose control even of those highest-level supraliminal 
centres on which our rational earth-life depends. But through automa- 
tism and in trance and allied states we draw into supraliminal life some 
rivulet from the undercurrent stream. If the subliminal centres which 
we thus impress into our waking service correspond to the middle-level 
only, they may bring to 1.3 merely error and confusion; if they correspond 


to the highest-level, they may introduce us to previously unimagined 

It is to work done by the aid of some such subliminal uprush, I say 
once more, that the word "genius" may be most fitly applied. "A work 
of genius," indeed, in common parlance, means a work which satisfies 
two quite distinct requirements. It must involve something original, 
spontaneous, unteachable, unexpected; and it must also in some way 
win for itself the admiration of mankind. Now, psychologically speaking, 
the first of these requirements corresponds to a real class, the second to 
a purely accidental one. What the poet feels while he writes his poem 
is the psychological fact in his history; what his friends feel while they 
read it may be a psychological fact in their history, but does not alter 
the poet's creative effort, which was what it was, whether any one but 
himself ever reads his poem or no. 

And popular phraseology justifies our insistence upon this subjective 
side of genius. Thus it is common to say that "Hartley Coleridge" (for 
example) "was a genius, although he never produced anything worth 
speaking of." Men recognise, that is to say, from descriptions of Hartley 
Coleridge, and from the fragments which he has left, that ideas came 
to him with what I have termed a sense of subliminal uprush, — with 
an authentic, although not to us an instructive, inspiration. 

As psychologists, I maintain, we are bound to base our definition of 
genius upon some criterion of this strictly psychological kind, rather than 
on the external tests which as artists or men of letters we should employ; 
— and which consider mainly the degree of delight which any given achieve- 
ment can bestow upon other men. The artist will speak of the pictorial 
genius of Raphael, but not of Hay don; of the dramatic genius of Corneille, 
but not of Voltaire. Yet Haydon's Autobiography — a record of tragic 
intensity, and closing in suicide — shows that the tame yet contorted 
figures of his "Raising of Lazarus" flashed upon him with an overmaster- 
ing sense of direct inspiration. Voltaire, again, writes to the president 
Henault of his unreadable tragedy Catilina: "Five acts in a week! I 
know that this sounds ridiculous; but if men could guess what enthusiasm 
can do, — how a poet in spite of himself, idolising his subject, devoured 
by his genius, can accomplish in a few days a task for which without that 
genius a year would not suffice; — in a word, si scirent donum Dei, — if 
they knew the gift of God, — their astonishment might be less than it must 
be now." I do not shrink from these extreme instances. It would be 
absurd, of course, to place Haydon's "Raising of Lazarus" in the same 
artistic class as Raphael's "Madonna di San Sisto." But in the same 


psychological class I maintain that both works must be placed. For each 
painter, after his several kind, there was the same inward process, — the 
same sense of subliminal uprush; — that extension, in other words, of 
mental concentration which draws into immediate cognisance some 
workings or elements of the hidden self. 

Let me illustrate this conception by a return to the metaphor of the 
" conscious spectrum" to which I introduced my reader in the first chap- 
ter. I there described our conscious spectrum as representing but a small 
fraction of the aurai simplicis ignis, or individual psychical ray; — just as 
our visible solar spectrum represents but a small fraction of the solar ray. 
And even as many waves of ether lie beyond the red end, and many beyond 
the violet end, of that visible spectrum, so have I urged that much of unrecog- 
nised or subliminal faculty lies beyond the red (or organic) end, and much 
beyond the violet (or intellectual) end of my imaginary spectrum. My main 
task in this book will be to prolong the psychical spectrum beyond either 
limit, by collecting traces of latent faculties, organic or transcendental: — 
just as by the bolometer, by fluorescence, by other artifices, physicists have 
prolonged the solar spectrum far beyond either limit of ordinary visibility. 

But at present, and before entering on that task of rendering manifest 
supernormal faculty, I am considering what we ought to regard as ihe 
normal range of faculty from which we start; — what, in relation to man, 
the words norm and normal should most reasonably mean. \ 

The word normal in common speech is used almost indifferently to 
imply either of two things, which may be very different from each other 
— conformity to a standard and position as an average between extremes. 
Often indeed the average constitutes the standard — as when a gas is 
of normal density; or is practically equivalent to the standard — as when 
a sovereign is of normal weight. But when we come to living organisms 
a new factor is introduced. Life is change; each living organism changes; 
each generation differs from its predecessor. To assign a fixed norm to a 
changing species is to shoot point-blank at a flying bird. The actual 
average at any given moment is no ideal standard; rather, the furthest 
evolutionary stage now reached is tending, given stability in the environ- 
ment, to become the average of the future. Human evolution is not so 
simple or so conspicuous a thing as the evolution of the pouter pigeon. 
But it would be rash to affirm that it is not even swifter than any variation 
among domesticated animals. Not a hundred generations separate us 
from the dawn of history; — about as many generations as some microbes 
can traverse in a month; — about as many as separate the modern Derby- 
winner from the war-horse of Gustavus Adolphus. Man's change has 


been less than the horse's change in physical contour, — probably only 
because man has not been specially bred with that view; — but taking 
as a test the power of self-adaptation to environment, man has traversed 
in these thirty centuries a wider arc of evolution than separates the race- 
horse from the eohippus. Or if we go back further, and to the primal 
germ, we see that man's ancestors must have varied faster than any 
animal's, since they have travelled farthest in the same time. They have 
varied also in the greatest number of directions; they have evoked in greatest 
multiplicity the unnumbered faculties latent in the irritability of a speck 
of slime. Of all creatures man has gone furthest both in differentiation 
and in integration; he has called into activity the greatest number of those 
faculties which lay potential in the primal germ, — and he has established 
over those faculties the strongest central control. The process still con- 
tinues. Civilisation adds to the complexity of his faculties; education 
helps him to their concentration. It is in the direction of a still wider 
range, a still firmer hold, that his evolution now must lie. I shall main- 
tain that this ideal is best attained by the man of genius. 

Let us consider the way in which the maximum of faculty is habitually 
manifested; the circumstances in which a man does what he has never 
supposed himself able to do before. We may take an instance where 
the faculty drawn upon lies only a little way beneath the surface. A man, 
we say, outdoes himself in a great emergency. If his house is on fire, let 
us suppose, he carries his children out over the roof with a strength and 
agility which seem beyond his own. That effective impulse seems more 
akin to instinct than to calculation. We hardly know whether to call 
the act reflex or voluntary. It is performed with almost no conscious 
intervention of thought or judgment, but it involves a new and complex 
adaptation of voluntary muscles such as would need habitually the man's 
most careful thought to plan and execute. From the point of view here 
taken the action will appear to have been neither reflex nor voluntary in 
the ordinary sense, but subliminal; — a subliminal uprush, an emergence 
of hidden faculty, — of nerve co-ordinations potential in his organism 
but till now unused, — which takes command of the man and guides 
his action at the moment when his being is deeply stirred. 

This stock instance of a man's possible behaviour in moments of great 
physical risk does but illustrate in a gross and obvious manner, and in 
the motor region, a phenomenon which, as I hold, is constantly occurring 
on a smaller scale in the inner life of most of us. We identify ourselves 
for the most part with a stream of voluntary, fully conscious ideas, — 
cerebral movements connected and purposive as the movement of the 


hand which records them. Meantime we are aware also of a substratum 
of fragmentary automatic, liminal ideas, of which we take small account. 
These are bubbles that break on the surface; but every now and then 
there is a stir among them. There is a rush upwards as of a subaqueous 
spring; an inspiration flashes into the mind for which our conscious effort 
has not prepared us. This so-called inspiration may in itself be trivial or 
worthless; but it is the initial stage of a phenomenon to which, when certain 
rare attributes are also present, the name of genius will be naturally given. 

I am urging, then, that where life is concerned, and where, therefore, 
change is normality, we ought to place our norm somewhat ahead of the 
average man, though on the evolutionary track which our race is pursuing. 
I have suggested that that evolutionary track is at present leading him in 
the direction of greater complexity in the perceptions which he forms of 
things without, and of greater concentration in his own will and thought, 
— in that response to perceptions which he makes from within. Lastly 
I have argued that men of genius, whose perceptions are presumably 
more vivid and complex than those of average men, are also the men who 
carry the power of concentration furthest; — reaching downwards, by 
some self-suggestion which they no more than we can explain, to treasures 
of latent faculty in the hidden Self. 

I am not indeed here assuming that the faculty which is at the service 
of the man of genius is of a kind different from that of common men, in 
such a sense that it would need to be represented by a prolongation of 
either end of the conscious spectrum. Rather it will be represented by 
such a brightening of the familiar spectrum as may follow upon an intensi- 
fication of the central light. For the spectrum of man's conscious 
faculty, like the solar spectrum, is not continuous but banded. There 
are groups of the dark lines of obstruction and incapacity, and even in 
the best of us a dim unequal glow. 

It will, then, be the special characteristic of genius that its uprushes 
of subliminal faculty will make the bright parts of the habitual spectrum 
more brilliant, will kindle the dim absorption-bands to fuller brightness, 
and will even raise quite dark lines into an occasional glimmer. 

But, if, as I believe, we can best give to the idea of genius some useful 
distinctness by regarding it in some such way as this, we shall find also 
that genius will fall into line with many other sensory and motor 
automatisms to which the word could not naturally be applied. Genius 
represents a narrow selection among a great many cognate phenomena; — 
among a great many uprushes or emergences of subliminal faculty both 
within and beyond the limits of the ordinary conscious spectrum. 


It will be more convenient to study all these together, under the heading 
of sensory or of motor automatism. It will then be seen that there is 
no kind of perception which may not emerge from beneath the threshold 
in an indefinitely heightened form, with just that convincing suddenness 
of impression which is described by men of genius as characteristic of 
their highest flights. Even with so simple a range of sensation as that 
which records the lapse of time there are subliminal uprushes of this type, 
and we shall see that a man may have a sudden and accurate inspiration 
of what o'clock it is, in just the same way as Virgil might have an 
inspiration of the second half of a difficult hexameter. 

For the purpose of present illustration of the workings of genius it 
seems well to choose a kind of ability which is quite indisputable, and 
which also admits of some degree of quantitative measurement. I would 
choose the higher mathematical processes, were data available; and I 
may say in passing how grateful I should be to receive from mathemati- 
cians any account of the mental processes of which they are conscious 
during the attainment of their highest results. Meantime there is a lower 
class of mathematical gift which by its very specialisation and isolation 
seems likely to throw light on our present inquiry. 

During the course of the present century, — and alas ! the scientific 
observation of unusual specimens of humanity hardly runs back further, 
or so far, — the public of great cities has been from time to time surprised 
and diverted by some so-called "calculating boy," or "arithmetical prod- 
igy," generally of tender years, and capable of performing "in his head," 
and almost instantaneously, problems for which ordinary workers would 
require pencil and paper and a much longer time. In some few cases, 
indeed, the ordinary student would have no means whatever of solving 
the problem which the calculating boy unriddled with ease and exactness. 

The especial advantage of the study of arithmetical prodigies is that 
in their case the subjective impression coincides closely with the objective 
result. The subliminal computator feels that the sum is right, and it is 
right. Forms of real or supposed genius which are more interesting are 
apt to be less undeniable. 

An American and a French psychologist 1 have collected such hints 

1 Professor Scripture in the American Journal of Psychology, vol. iv., No. i, April 
1891; Professor Binet in the Revue Philosophique, 1895. Professor Binet's article 
deals largely with Jacques Inaudi, the most recent prodigy, who appears to differ 
from the rest in that his gift is auditile rather than visual. His gift was first observed 
in childhood. His general intelligence is below the average. Another recent prodigy, 
Diamanti, seems, on the other hand, to be in other ways quick-witted. 


and explanations as these prodigies have given of their methods of work- 
ing; methods which one might naturally hope to find useful in ordinary 
education. The result, however, has been very meagre, and the records 
left to us, imperfect as they are, are enough to show that the main and 
primary achievement has in fact been subliminal, while conscious or supra- 
liminal effort has sometimes been wholly absent, sometimes has super- 
vened only after the gift has been so long exercised that the accesses between 
different strata have become easy by frequent traversing. The prodigy 
grown to manhood, who now recognises the arithmetical artifices which 
he used unconsciously as a boy, resembles the hypnotic subject trained 
by suggestion to remember in waking hours the events of the trance. 

In almost every point, indeed, where comparison is possible, we shall 
find this computative gift resembling other manifestations of subliminal 
faculty, — such as the power of seeing hallucinatory figures, — rather 
than the results of steady supraliminal effort, such as the power of logical 
analysis. In the first place, this faculty, in spite of its obvious connection 
with general mathematical grasp and insight, is found almost at random, 
— among non-mathematical and even quite stupid persons, as well as 
among mathematicians of mark. In the second place, it shows itself 
mostly in early childhood, and tends to disappear in later life; — in this 
resembling visualising power in general, and the power of seeing halluci- 
natory figures in particular; which powers, as both Mr. Galton's inquiries 
and our own tend to show, are habitually stronger in childhood and youth 
than in later years. Again, it is noticeable that when the power disap- 
pears early in life it is apt to leave behind it no memory whatever of the 
processes involved. And even when, by long persistence in a reflective 
mind, the power has become, so to say, adopted into the supraliminal 
consciousness, there nevertheless may still be flashes of pure "inspira- 
tion," when the answer "comes into the mind" with absolutely no per- 
ception of intermediate steps. 

I subjoin a table, compiled by the help of Dr. Scripture's collection, 
which will broadly illustrate the main points above mentioned. Some 
more detailed remarks may then follow. 


Table of Principal Arithmetical Prodigies. 

Name (alphabetically). 

Age when gift 
was observed. 

Duration of gift. 


Ampere .... 


Buxton .... 
Colburn .... 
Dase [or Dahse] . 




Mondeux .... 


Safford .... 

"Mr.VanR.,ofUtica" . 

Whately .... 








through life 

few years 
through life 


few years 
few years 
few years 
few years 
few years 
few years 





very low 



average ? 




average ? 


Now among these thirteen names we have two men of transcendent, 
and three of high ability. What accounts have they given us of their 

methods ? 

Of the gift of Gauss and Ampere we know nothing except a few striking 
anecdotes. After manifesting itself at an age when there is usually no 
continuous supraliminal mental effort worth speaking of, it appears to 
have been soon merged in the general blaze of their genius. With Bidder 
the gift persisted through life, but grew weaker as he grew older. His 
paper in Vol. XV. of the Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers, 
while furnishing a number of practical hints to the calculator, indicates 
also a singular readiness of communication between different mental 
strata. "Whenever," he says (p. 255) "I feel called upon to make use 
of the stores of my mind, they seem to rise with the rapidity of lightning." 
And in Vol. CHI. of the same Proceedings, Mr. W. Pole, F.R.S., in de- 
scribing how Mr. Bidder could determine mentally the logarithm of any 
number to 7 or 8 places, says (p. 252): "He had an almost miraculous 
power of seeing, as it were, intuitively what factors would divide any 
large number, not a prime. Thus, if he were given the number 17,861, 
he would instantly remark it was 337X53- • • • He could not, he said, 
explain how he did this; it seemed a natural instinct to him." 

Passing on to the two other men of high ability known to have pos- 
sessed this gift, Professor Safford and Archbishop Whately, we are struck 
with the evanescence of the power after early youth, — or even before 


the end of childhood. I quote from Dr. Scripture Archbishop Whately's 
account of his powers. 

There was certainly something peculiar in my calculating faculty. 
It began to show itself at between five and six, and lasted about three 
years. ... I soon got to do the most difficult sums, always in my head, 
for I knew nothing of figures beyond numeration. I did these sums 
much quicker than any one could upon paper, and I never remember 
committing the smallest error. When I went to school, at which time 
the passion wore off, I was a perfect dunce at ciphering, and have continued 
so ever since. 

Still more remarkable, perhaps, was Professor Safford's loss of power. 
Professor Safford's whole bent was mathematical; his boyish gift of cal- 
culation raised him into notice; and he is now a Professor of Astronomy. 
He had therefore every motive and every opportunity to retain the gift, if 
thought and practice could have retained it. But whereas at ten years 
old he worked correctly in his head, in one minute, a multiplication sum 
whose answer consisted of 36 figures, he is now, I believe, neither more 
nor less capable of such calculation than his neighbours. 

Similar was the fate of a personage who never rises above initials, and 
of whose general capacity we know nothing. 

"Mr. Van R., of Utica," says Dr. Scripture on the authority of Gall, 
"at the age of six years distinguished himself by a singular faculty for 
calculating in his head. At eight he entirely lost this faculty, and after 
that time he could calculate neither better nor faster than any other person. 
He did not retain the slightest idea of the manner in which he performed 
his calculations in childhood. 11 

Turning now to the stupid or uneducated prodigies, Dase alone seems 
to have retained his power through life. Colburn and Mondeux, and 
apparently Prolongeau and Mangiamele, lost their gift after childhood. 

On the whole the ignorant prodigies seldom appear to have been con- 
scious of any continuous logical process, while in some cases the separa- 
tion of the supraliminal and subliminal trains of thought must have been 
very complete. "Buxton would talk freely whilst doing his questions, 
that being no molestation or hindrance to him." 1 Fixity and clearness 
of inward visualisation seems to have been the leading necessity in all 
these achievements; and it apparently mattered little whether the mental 
blackboard (so to say) on which the steps of the calculation were recorded 
were or were not visible to the mind's eye of the supraliminal self. 

I have been speaking only of visualisation; but it would be interesting 

1 Scripture, op. tit., p. 54. 


if we could discover how much actual mathematical insight or inventive- 
ness can be subliminally exercised. Here, however, our materials are 
very imperfect. From Gauss and Ampere we have, so far as I know, no 
record. At the other end of the scale, we know that Dase (perhaps the 
most successful of all these prodigies) was singularly devoid of mathe- 
matical grasp. "On one occasion Petersen tried in vain for six weeks 
to get the first elements of mathematics into his head." "He could not 
be made to have the least idea of a proposition in Euclid. Of any lan- 
guage but his own he could never master a word." Yet Dase received 
a grant from the Academy of Sciences at Hamburg, on the recommenda- 
tion of Gauss, for mathematical work; and actually in twelve years made 
tables of factors and prime numbers for the seventh and nearly the whole 
of the eighth million, — a task which probably few men could have 
accomplished, without mechanical aid, in an ordinary lifetime. He may 
thus be ranked as the only man who has ever done valuable service to 
Mathematics without being able to cross the Ass's Bridge. 

No support is given by what we know of this group to the theory which 
regards subliminal mentation as necessarily a sign of some morbid dis- 
sociation of physical elements. Is there, on the other hand, anything 
to confirm a suggestion which will occur in some similar cases, namely, 
that, — inasmuch as the addition of subliminal to supraliminal mentation 
may often be a completion and integration rather than a fractionation 
or disintegration of the total individuality, — we are likely sometimes to 
find traces of a more than common activity of the right or less used cerebral 
hemisphere ? Finding no mention of ambidexterity in the meagre notices 
which have come down to us of the greater "prodigies," I begged the 
late Mr. Bidder, Q.C., and Mr. Blyth, of Edinburgh (the well-known 
civil engineer and perhaps the best living English representative of what 
we may call the calculating diathesis), to tell me whether their left hands 
possessed more than usual power. And I find that in these — the only 
two cases in which I have been able to make inquiry — there is some- 
what more of dextro-cerebral capacity than in the mass of mankind. 

We may now pass on to review some further instances of subliminal 
co-operation with conscious thought; — first looking about us for any 
cases comparable in definiteness with the preceding; and then extending 
our view over the wider and vaguer realm of creative and artistic work. 

But before we proceed to the highly-specialised senses of hearing and 
sight, we must note the fact that there are cases of subliminal intensifica- 
tion of those perceptions of a less specialised kind which underlie our 
more elaborate modes of cognising the world around us. The sense of 


the efflux oj time, and the sense of weight, or of muscular resistance, are 
amongst the profoundest elements in our organic being. And the sense 
of time is indicated in several ways as a largely subliminal faculty. There 
is much evidence to show that it is often more exact in men sleeping than 
in men awake, and in men hypnotised than in men sleeping. The records 
of spontaneous somnambulism are full of predictions made by the subject 
as to his own case, and accomplished, presumably by self-suggestion, 
but without help from clocks, at the precise minute foretold. Or this 
hidden knowledge may take shape in the imagery of dream, as in a case 
published by Professor Royce, of Harvard, 1 where his correspondent 
describes "a dream in which I saw an enormous flaming clock-dial with 
the hands standing at 2.20. Awaking immediately, I struck a match, 
and upon looking at my watch found it was a few seconds past 2.20." 

Similarly we find cases where the uprush of subliminal faculty is con- 
cerned with the deep organic sensation of muscular resistance. We need 
not postulate any direct or supernormal knowledge, — but merely a sub- 
liminal calculation, such as we see in the case of "arithmetical prodigies,' ' 
expressing itself supraliminally, sometimes in a phantasmal picture, some- 
times as a mere " conviction," without sensory clothing. 2 

Passing on here to subliminal products of visual type, I am glad to be 
able to quote the following passage which seems to me to give in germ 
the very theory for which I am now contending on the authority of one 
of the most lucid thinkers of the last generation. 

The passage occurs in an article by Sir John Herschel on "Sensorial 
Vision," in his Familiar Lectures on Scientific Subjects, 1816. Sir John 
describes some experiences of his own, "which consist in the involuntary 
production of visual impressions, into which geometrical regularity of 
form enters as the leading character, and that, under circumstances which 
altogether preclude any explanation drawn from a possible regularity 
of structure in the retina or the optic nerve." 3 Twice these patterns ap- 
peared in waking daylight hours, — with no illness or discomfort at the 
time or afterwards. More frequently they appeared in darkness; but 
still while Sir John was fully awake. They appeared also twice when 
he was placed under chloroform; "and I should observe that I never lost 

1 Proceedings of American S.P.R., vol. i. No. 4, p. 360. 

2 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 337 [§311]. 

3 On this point see Professor James's Principles of Psychology, vol. ii. p. 84, note. 
Goethe's well-known phantasmal flower was clearly no mere representation of retinal 
structure. A near analogy to these patterns lies in the so-called "spirit-drawings," 
or automatic arabesques, discussed elsewhere in this chapter. 


my consciousness of being awake and in full possession of my mind, though 
quite insensible to what was going on. . . . Now the question at once 
presents itself — What are these Geometrical Spectres? and how, and 
in what department of the bodily or mental economy do they originate? 
They are evidently not dreams. The mind is not dormant, but active 
and conscious of the direction of its thoughts; while these things obtrude 
themselves on notice, and by calling attention to them, direct the train 
of thought into a channel it would not have taken of itself. ... If it be 
true that the conception of a regular geometrical pattern implies the exer- 
cise of thought and intelligence, it would almost seem that in such cases 
as those above adduced we have evidence of a thought, an intelligence, 
working within our own organisation distinct from that of our own per- 
sonality." And Sir John further suggests that these complex figures, 
entering the mind in this apparently arbitrary fashion, throw light upon 
"the suggestive principle" to which "we must look for much that is de- 
terminant and decisive of our volition when carried into action," "It 
strikes me as not by any means devoid of interest to contemplate cases 
where, in a matter so entirely abstract, so completely devoid of any moral 
or emotional bearing, as the production of a geometrical figure, we, as 
it were, seize upon that principle in the very act, and in the performance 
of its office." 

From my point of view, of course, I can but admire the acumen which 
enabled this great thinker to pierce to the root of the matter by the aid 
of so few observations. He does not seem to have perceived the connection 
between these "schematic phantasms," to borrow a phrase from Professor 
Ladd, 1 and the hallucinatory figures of men or animals seen in health 
or in disease. But even from his scanty data his inference seems to me 
irresistible; — "we have evidence of a thought, an intelligence, working 
within our own organisation, distinct from that of our own personality." 
I shall venture to claim him as the first originator of the theory to which 
the far fuller evidence now accessible had independently led myself. 

Cases observed as definitely as those just quoted are few in number; 
and I must pass on into a much trodden — even a confusedly trampled 
— field; — the records, namely, left by eminent men as to the element 
of subconscious mentation, which was involved in their best work. Most 
of these stories have been again and again repeated; — and they have 
been collected on a large scale in a celebrated work, — to me especially 
distasteful, as containing what seems to me the loose and extravagant 
parody of important truth. It is not my business here to criticise Dr. 

1 See Professor Ladd's paper on this subject in Mind, April 1892. 


Von Hartmann's Philosophy 0} the Unconscious in detail; but I prefer 
to direct my readers' attention to a much more modest volume, in which 
a young physician has put together the results of a direct inquiry addressed 
to some Frenchmen of distinction as to their methods especially of imagi- 
native work. 1 I quote a few of the replies addressed to him, beginning 
with some words from M. Sully Prudhomme, — at once psychologist 
and poet, — who is here speaking of the subconscious clarification of a 
chain of abstract reasoning. "I have sometimes suddenly understood 
a geometrical demonstration made to me a year previously without having 
in any way directed thereto my attention or will. It seemed that the mere 
spontaneous ripening of the conceptions which the lectures had implanted 
in my brain had brought about within me this novel grasp of the proof. " 

With this we may compare a statement of Arago's — "Instead of 
obstinately endeavouring to understand a proposition at once, I would 
admit its truth provisionally; — and next day I would be astonished at 
understanding thoroughly that which seemed all dark before. ,, 

Condillac similarly speaks of finding an incomplete piece of work 
finished next day in his head. 

Somewhat similarly, though in another field, M. Rette, a poet, tells 
Dr. Chabaneix that he falls asleep in the middle of an unfinished stanza, 
and when thinking of it again in the morning finds it completed. And 
M. Vincent d'Indy, a musical composer, says that he often has on waking 
a fugitive glimpse of a musical effect which (like the memory of a dream) 
needs a strong immediate concentration of mind to keep it from vanishing. 

De Musset writes, "On ne travaille pas, on ecoute, c'est comme un 
inconnu qui vous parle a l'oreille." 

Lamartine says, "Ce n'est pas moi qui pense; ce sont mes idees qui 
pensent pour moi." 

Remy de Gourmont: "My conceptions rise into the field of conscious- 
ness like a flash of lightning or like the flight of a bird." 

M. S. writes: "In writing these dramas I seemed to be a spectator at 
the play; I gazed at what was passing on the scene in an eager, wondering 
expectation of what was to follow. And yet I felt that all this came from 
the depth of my own being." 

Saint-Saens had only to listen, as Socrates to his Daemon; and M. 
Ribot, summing up a number of similar cases, says: "It is the uncon- 
scious which produces what is vulgarly called inspiration. This condition 
is a positive fact, accompanied with physical and psychical characteristics 

1 "Le Subconscient chez les Artistes, les Savantes, et les Ecrivains," par le Dr. 
Paul Chabaneix, Paris, 1897. 


peculiar to itself. Above all, it is impersonal and involuntary, it acts like 
an instinct, when and how it chooses; it may be wooed, but cannot be 
compelled. Neither reflection nor will can supply its place in original 
creation. . . . The bizarre habits of artists when composing tend to create 
a special physiological condition, — to augment the cerebral circulation 
in order to provoke or to maintain the unconscious activity." 

In what precise way the cerebral circulation is altered we can hardly 
at present hope to know. Meantime a few psychological remarks fall 
more easily within our reach. 

In the first place, we note that a very brief and shallow submergence 
beneath the conscious level is enough to infuse fresh vigour into supra- 
liminal trains of thought. Ideas left to mature unnoticed for a few days, 
or for a single night, seem to pass but a very little way beneath the threshold. 
They represent, one may say, the first stage of a process which, although 
often inconspicuous, is not likely to be discontinuous, — the sustenance, 
namely, of the supraliminal life by impulse or guidance from below. 

In the second place, we see in some of these cases of deep and fruitful 
abstraction a slight approach to duplication of personality. John Stuart 
Mill, intent on his Principles of Logic, as he threaded the crowds of Leaden- 
hall Street, recalls certain morbid cases of hysterical distraction; — only 
that with Mill the process was an integrative one and not a dissolutive 
one — a gain and not a loss of power over the organism. 

And thirdly, in some of these instances we see the man of genius achiev- 
ing spontaneously, and unawares, much the same result as that which 
is achieved for the hypnotic subject by deliberate artifice. For he is in 
fact co-ordinating the waking and the sleeping phases of his existence. 
He is carrying into sleep the knowledge and the purpose of waking hours; 
— and he is carrying back into waking hours again the benefit of those 
profound assimilations which are the privilege of sleep. Hypnotic sug- 
gestion aims at co-operations of just this kind between the waking state 
in which the suggestion, say, of some functional change, is planned and 
the sleeping state in which that change is carried out, — with benefit 
persisting anew into waking life. The hypnotic trance, which is a de- 
veloped sleep, thus accomplishes for the ordinary man what ordinary 
sleep accomplishes for the man of genius. 

The coming chapters on Sleep and Hypnotism will illustrate this point 
more fully. But I may here anticipate my discussion of dreams by quoting 
one instance where dreams, self-suggested by waking will, formed, as 
one may say, an integral element in distinguished genius. 

The late Robert Louis Stevenson, being in many ways a typical man 


of genius, was in no way more markedly gifted with that integrating fac- 
ulty — that increased power over all strata of the personality — which 
I have ascribed to genius, than in his relation to his dreams (see "A Chap- 
ter on Dreams " in his volume Across the Plains). Seldom has the essential 
analogy between dreams and inspiration been exhibited in such a striking 
way. His dreams had always (he tells us) been of great vividness, and 
often of markedly recurrent type. But the point of interest is that, when 
he began to write stories for publication, the "little people who managed 
man's internal theatre" understood the change as well as he. 

When he lay down to prepare himself for sleep, he no longer sought 
amusement, but printable and profitable tales; and after he had dozed 
off in his box-seat, his little people continued their evolutions with the 
same mercantile designs. . . . For the most part, whether awake or 
asleep, he is simply occupied — he or his little people — in consciously 
making stories for the market. . . . 

The more I think of it, the more I am moved to press upon the world 
my question: "Who are the Little People?" They are near connections 
of the dreamer's, beyond doubt; they share in his financial worries and 
have an eye to the bank book; they share plainly in his training; . . . 
they have plainly learned like him to build the scheme of a considerate 
story and to arrange emotion in progressive order; only I think they have 
more talent; and one thing is beyond doubt, — they can tell him a story 
piece by piece, like a serial, and keep him all the while in ignorance of 
where they aim. . . . 

That part [of my work] which is done while I am sleeping is the 
Brownies' part beyond contention; but that which is done when I am 
up and about is by no means necessarily mine, since all goes to show the 
Brownies have a hand in it even then. 

Slight and imperfect as the above statistics and observations admittedly 
are, they seem to me to point in a more useful direction than do some of 
the facts collected by that modern group of anthropologists who hold that 
genius is in itself a kind of nervous malady, a disturbance of mental 
balance, akin to criminality or even to madness. 

It is certainly not true, as I hold, either that the human race in general 
is nervously degenerating, or that nervous degeneration tends to a maxi- 
mum in its most eminent members. But it can be plausibly maintained 
that the proportion of nervous to other disorders tends to increase. And 
it is certain that not nervous degeneration but nervous change or develop- 
ment is now proceeding among civilised peoples more rapidly than ever 
before, and that this self-adaptation to wider environments must inevitably 
be accompanied in the more marked cases by something of nervous in- 
stability. And it is true also that from one point of view these changes 


might form matter for regret; and that in order to discern what I take 
to be their true meaning we have to regard the problem of human evolution 
from a somewhat unfamiliar standpoint. 

The nervous system is probably tending in each generation to become 
more complex and more delicately ramified. As is usual when any part 
of an organism is undergoing rapid evolutive changes, this nervous progress 
is accompanied with some instability. Those individuals in whom the 
hereditary or the acquired change is the most rapid are likely also to 
suffer most from a perturbation which masks evolution — an occasional 
appearance of what may be termed "nervous sports" of a useless or even 
injurious type. Such are the fancies and fanaticisms, the bizarre likes 
and dislikes, the excessive or aberrant sensibilities, which have been ob- 
served in some of the eminent men whom Lombroso discusses in his book 
on the Man of Genius. Their truest analogue, as we shall presently see 
more fully, lies in the oddities or morbidities of sentiment or sensation 
which so often accompany the development of the human organism into 
its full potencies, or precede the crowning effort by which a fresh organism 
is introduced into the world. 

Such at least is my view; but the full acceptance of this view must 
depend upon some very remote and very speculative considerations bear- 
ing upon the nature and purport of the whole existence and evolution of 
man. Yet however remote and speculative the thesis which I defend 
may be, it is not one whit remoter or more speculative than the view which, 
jaute de tnieux, is often tacitly assumed by scientific writers. 

In our absolute ignorance of the source from whence life came, we 
have no ground for assuming that it was a purely planetary product, or 
that its unknown potentialities are concerned with purely planetary ends. 
It would be as rash for the biologist to assume that life on earth can only 
point to generations of further life on earth as it would have been for some 
cosmic geologist to assume — before the appearance of life on earth — 
that geological forces must needs constitute all the activity which could 
take place on this planet. 

Since the germ of life appeared on earth, its history has been a history 
not only of gradual self-adaptation to a known environment, but of gradual 
discovery of an environment, always there, but unknown. What we call 
its primitive simple irritability was in fact a dim panaesthesia; a potential 
faculty, as yet unconscious of all the stimuli to which it had not yet learnt 
to respond. As these powers of sensation and of response have developed, 
they have gradually revealed to the living germ environments of which 
at first it could have no conception. 


It is probable, to begin with, that the only environment which the 
vast majority of our ancestors knew was simply hot water. For the greater 
part of the time during which life has existed on earth it would have been 
thought chimerical to suggest that we could live in anything else. It 
was a great day for us when an ancestor crawled up out of the slowly- 
cooling sea; — or say rather when a previously unsuspected capacity for 
directly breathing air gradually revealed the fact that we had for long 
been breathing air in the water; — and that we were living in the midst 
of a vastly extended environment, — the atmosphere of the earth. It 
was a great day again when another ancestor felt on his pigment-spot 
the solar ray; — or say rather when a previously unsuspected capacity 
for perceiving light revealed the fact that we had for long been acted upon 
by light as well as by heat; and that we were living in the midst of a vastly 
extended environment, — namely, the illumined Universe that stretches 
to the Milky Way. It was a great day when the first skate (if skate he 
were) felt an unknown virtue go out from him towards some worm or 
mudfish; — or say rather when a previously unsuspected capacity for 
electrical excitation demonstrated the fact that we had long been acted 
upon by electricity as well as by heat and by light; and that we were living 
in an inconceivable and limitless environment, — namely, an ether charged 
with infinite energy, overpassing and interpenetrating alike the last gulf 
of darkness and the extremest star. All this, — phrased perhaps in some 
other fashion, — all men admit as true. May we not then suppose that 
there are yet other environments, other interpretations, which a further 
awakening of faculty still subliminal is yet fated by its own nascent re- 
sponse to discover? Will it be alien to the past history of evolution if 
I add: It was a great day when the first thought or feeling flashed into 
some mind of beast or man from a mind distant from his own ? — when 
a previously unsuspected capacity of telepathic percipience revealed the 
fact that we had long been acted upon by telepathic as well as by 
sensory stimuli; and that we were living in an inconceivable and limitless 
environment, — a thought-world or spiritual universe charged with 
infinite life, and interpenetrating and overpassing all human spirits, — 
up to what some have called World-Soul, and some God? 

And now it will be easily understood that one of the corollaries from 
the conception of a constantly widening and deepening perception of an 
environment infinite in infinite ways, will be that the faculties which befit 
the material environment have absolutely no primacy, unless it be of the 
merely chronological kind, over those faculties which science has often 
called by-products, because they have no manifest tendency to aid their 


possessor in the struggle for existence in a material world. The higher 
gifts of genius — poetry, the plastic arts, music, philosophy, pure mathe- 
matics — all of these are precisely as much in the central stream of evo- 
lution — are perceptions of new truth and powers of new action just as 
decisively predestined for the race of man — as the aboriginal Australian's 
faculty for throwing a boomerang or for swarming up a tree for grubs. 
There is, then, about those loftier interests nothing exotic, nothing acci- 
dental; they are an intrinsic part of that ever-evolving response to our 
surroundings which forms not only the planetary but the cosmic history 
of all our race. 

What inconsistencies, what absurdities, underlie that assumption that 
evolution means nothing more than the survival of animals fittest to 
conquer enemies and to overrun the earth. On that bare hypothesis the 
genus homo is impossible to explain. No one really attempts to explain 
him except on the tacit supposition that Nature somehow tended to evolve 
intelligence — somehow needed to evolve joy; was not satisfied with such 
an earth-over-runner as the rabbit, or such an invincible conqueror as 
the influenza microbe. But how much intelligence, what kind of joy 
Nature aimed at — is this to be left to be settled by the instinct of Vhomme 
sensuel moyen ? or ought we not rather to ask of the best specimens of our 
race what it is that they live for? — whether they labour for the meat 
that perisheth, or for Love and Wisdom? To more and more among 
mankind the need of food is supplied with as little conscious effort as the 
need of air; yet these are often the very men through whom evolution is 
going on most unmistakably — who are becoming the typical figures of 
the swiftly-changing race. 

Once more. If this point of view be steadily maintained, we shall 
gain further light on some of those strangenesses and irregularities of 
genius which have led to its paradoxical juxtaposition with insanity as a 
divergence from the accepted human type. The distinctive characteristic 
of genius is the large infusion of the subliminal in its mental output; and 
one characteristic of the subliminal in my view is that it is in closer relation 
than the supraliminal to the spiritual world, and is thus nearer to the prim- 
itive source and extra- terrene initiation of life. And earthly Life itself 
— embodied as it is in psycho-physically individualised forms — is, on 
the theory advanced in these pages, a product or characteristic of the 
etherial or metetherial and not of the gross material world. Thence in 
some unknown fashion it came; there in some unknown fashion it sub- 
sists even throughout its earthly manifestation; thither in some unknown 
fashion it must after earthly death return. If indeed the inspirations 


of genius spring from a source one step nearer to primitive reality than 
is that specialised consensus of faculties which natural selection has lifted 
above the threshold for the purposes of working-day existence, then surely 
we need not wonder if the mind and frame of man should not always 
suffice for smooth and complete amalgamation; if some prefiguration of 
faculties adapted to a later stage of being should mar the symmetry of 
the life of earth. 

And thus there may really be something at times incommensurable 
between the inspirations of genius and the results of conscious logical 
thought. Just as the calculating boy solves his problems by methods 
which differ from the methods of the trained mathematician, so in artistic 
matters also that "something of strangeness" which is in "all excellent 
beauty," may be the expression of a real difference between subliminal 
and supraliminal modes of perception. I cannot help thinking that such 
a difference is perceptible in subliminal relations to speech; that the sub- 
liminal self will sometimes surpass conscious effort, if it is treating speech 
as a branch of Art, in Poetry; — or else in some sense will fall short of 
conscious effort, when it is merely using words as an unavoidable medium 
to express ideas which common speech was hardly designed to convey. 

Thus, on the one hand, when in presence of one of the great verbal 
achievements of the race — say the Agamemnon of ./Eschyrus — it is hard 
to resist the obscure impression that some form of intelligence other than 
supraliminal reason or conscious selection has been at work. The result 
less resembles the perfection of rational choice among known data than 
the imperfect presentation of some scheme based on perceptions which 
we cannot entirely follow. 

But, on the other hand, even though words may thus be used by genius 
with something of the mysterious remoteness of music itself, it seems to 
me that our subliminal mentation is less closely bound to the faculty of 
speech than is our supraliminal. There is a phrase in common use which 
involves perhaps more of psychological significance than has yet been 
brought out. Of all which we can call genius, or which we can ally with 
genius — of art, of love, of religious emotion — it is common to hear 
men say that they transcend the scope of speech. Nor have we any reason 
for regarding this as a mere vague sentimental expression. 

There is no a priori ground for supposing that language will have 
the power to express all the thoughts and emotions of man. It may indeed 
be maintained that the inevitable course of its development tends to ex- 
hibit more and more clearly its inherent limitations. "Every language," 
it has been said, "begins as poetry and ends as algebra." To use the 


terms employed in this work, every language begins as a subliminal uprush 
and ends as a supraliminal artifice. Organic instincts impel to primitive 
ejaculation; unconscious laws of mind shape early grammar. But even 
in our own day — and we are still in the earth's infancy — this naivete 
of language is fast disappearing. The needs of science and of commerce 
have become dominant, and although our vocabulary, based as it is on 
concrete objects and direct sensations, is refined for the expression of 
philosophic thought, still we cannot wonder if our supraliminal manipu- 
lation leaves us with an instrument less and less capable of expressing 
the growing complexity of our whole psychical being. 

What then, we may ask, is the attitude and habit of the subliminal 
self likely to be with regard to language? Is it not probable that other 
forms of symbolism may retain a greater proportional importance among 
those submerged mental operations which have not been systematised 
for the convenience of communication with other men? 

I think that an intelligent study of visual and motor automatism will 
afford us sufficient proof that symbolism, at any rate pictorial symbolism, 
becomes increasingly important as we get at the contents of those hidden 
strata. Telepathic messages, especially, which form, as we shall see, 
the special prerogative or characteristic of subliminal communication, 
seem to be conveyed by vague impression or by inward or externalised 
picture oftener than by articulate speech. And I may so far anticipate 
later discussion of automatic writings (whether self-inspired or telepathic) 
as to point out a curious linguistic quality which almost all such writings 
share. The "messages" of a number of automatists, taken at random, 
will be sure to resemble each other much more closely than do the supra- 
liminal writings of the same persons. Quite apart from their general 
correspondence in ideas — which belongs to another branch of our subject 
— there is among the automatic writings of quite independent automatists 
a remarkable correspondence of literary style. There is a certain quality 
which reminds one of a translation, or of the compositions of a person 
writing in a language which he is not accustomed to talk. These charac- 
teristics appear at once in automatic script, even of the incoherent kind; 
they persist when there is no longer any dream-like incoherence; they 
are equally marked, even when, as often happens, the automatic script 
surpasses in intelligence, and even in its own kind of eloquence, the 
products of the waking or supraliminal mind. 

And side by side and intercurrent with these written messages come 
those strange meaningless arabesques which have been baptized as "spirit- 
drawings " — though they rarely show any clear trace of the operation of 


an external intelligence. 1 These complex and fanciful compositions — 
often absolutely automatic — appear to me like a stammering or rudi- 
mentary symbolism; as though the subliminal intelligence were striving 
to express itself through a vehicle perhaps more congenial to its habits 
than articulate language. 

Returning, then, from these illustrations drawn from actual automa- 
tism to our proper subject of genius, — that happy mixture of subliminal 
with supraliminal faculty, — we may ask ourselves in what kind of sub- 
liminal uprush this hidden habit of wider symbolism, of self-communion 
beyond the limits of speech, will be likely to manifest itself above the 
conscious threshold. 

The obvious answer to this question lies in the one word Art. The 
inspiration of Art of all kinds consists in the invention of precisely such a 
wider symbolism as has been above adumbrated. I am not speaking, 
of course, of symbolism of a forced and mechanical kind — symbolism 
designed and elaborated as such — but rather of that pre-existent but 
hidden concordance between visible and invisible things, between matter 
and thought, between thought and emotion, which the plastic arts, and 
music, and poetry, do each in their own special field discover and manifest 
for human wisdom and joy. 

In using these words, I must repeat, I am far from adopting the formulae 
of any special school. The symbolism of which I speak implies nothing 
of mysticism. Nor indeed, in my view, can there be any real gulf or deep 
division between so-called realistic and idealistic schools. All that exists 
is continuous; nor can Art symbolise any one aspect of the universe with- 
out also implicitly symbolising aspects which lie beyond. 

And thus in the Arts we have symbolism at every stage of transparency 
and obscurity; from symbolisms which merely summarise speech to sym- 
bolisms which transcend it. Sometimes, as with Music, it is worse than 
useless to press for too close an interpretation. Music marches, and will 
march for ever, through an ideal and unimaginable world. Her melody 
may be a mighty symbolism, but it is a symbolism to which man has lost the 
key. Poetry's material, on the other hand, is the very language which she 
would fain transcend. But her utterance must be subliminal and symbolic, 
if it is to be poetry indeed; it must rise (as has been already hinted) from 
a realm profounder than deliberate speech; it must come charged, as 
Tennyson has it, with that "charm in words, a charm no words can give." 

1 Instances of this form of automatism are described in a book called Spirit Draw- 
ings: a Personal Narrative, by W. M. Wilkinson, some account of which is given in 
Appendix 811 A (Vol. II.) of the unabridged edition. 


Here, too, we must dwell for a moment upon another and higher kind 
of internal visualisation. I have spoken of the arithmetical prodigy as 
possessing a kind of internal blackboard, on which he inscribes with ease 
and permanence his imaginary memoranda. But blackboards are not 
the only surfaces on which inscriptions can be made. There are other 
men — prodigies of a different order — whose internal tabula is not of 
blackened wood, but of canvas or of marble; whose inscriptions are not 
rows of Arabic numerals but living lines of colour, or curves of breathing 
stone. Even the most realistic art is something more than transcript 
and calculation; and for art's higher imaginative achievements there must 
needs be moments of inward idealisation when visible beauty seems but 
the token and symbol of beauty unrevealed; when Praxiteles must "draw 
from his own heart the archetype of the Eros that he made; " when Tintoret 
must feel with Heraclitus that " whatsoever we see waking is but dead- 
ness, and whatsoever sleeping, is but dream." 

But when we reach this point we have begun (as I say) to transcend 
the special province to which, in Chapter I, I assigned the title of genius. 
I there pointed out that the influence of the subliminal on the supraliminal 
might conveniently be divided under three main heads. When the sub- 
liminal mentation co-operates with and supplements the supraliminal, 
without changing the apparent phase of personality, we have genius. When 
subliminal operations change the apparent phase of personality from 
the state of waking in the direction of trance, we have hypnotism. When 
the subliminal mentation forces itself up through the supraliminal, without 
amalgamation, as in crystal-vision, automatic writing, etc., we have sen- 
sory or motor automatism. In accordance with this definition, the content 
of the inspirations of genius is supposed to be of the same general type 
as the content of ordinary thought. W T e have regarded genius as crystal- 
lising fluid ideas; or, if you will, as concentrating and throwing upwards 
in its clear fountain a maze of subterranean streams. But we have not 
regarded it as modifying, in such operation, the ordinary alert wakeful- 
ness of the thinker, nor as providing him with any fresh knowledge, 
obtainable by supernormal methods alone. 

It is plain, however, that such distinctions as those which I have drawn 
between genius, trance, automatism, cannot possibly be rigid or absolute. 
They are distinctions made for convenience between different phases 
of what must really be a continuous process — namely, the influence of 
the Self below the threshold upon the Self above it. Between each of 
these definite phases all kinds of connections and intermediate stages 
must surely exist. 


Connections between trance and automatism, indeed, are obvious 
enough. The difficulty has rather lain in their clear separation. Trance, 
when habitual, is pretty sure to lead to automatic speech or writing. 
Automatism, when prolonged, is similarly apt to induce a state of trance. 

The links between Genius and these cognate states are of a less con- 
spicuous kind. They do, however, exist in such variety as to confirm 
in marked fashion the analogies suggested above. 

And first, as to the connection between genius and automatism, one 
may say that just as anger is a brief madness, so the flash of Genius is 
essentially a brief automatism. 

Wordsworth's moments of inspiration, when, as he says, 

"Some lovely image in the song rose up 
Full-formed, like Venus rising from the sea," 

were in effect moments of automatic utterance; albeit of utterance held 
fast in immediate co-operation with the simultaneous workings of the 
supraliminal self. Such a sudden poetic creation, like the calculating 
boy's announcement of the product of two numbers, resembles the sudden 
rush of planchette or pencil, in haste to scrawl some long-wished-for word. 

Now extend this momentary automatism a little further. We come 
then to what is called the faculty of improvisation. How much is meant 
by this term? Is the extempore oration, "the unpremeditated lay," in 
truth a subliminal product ? or have we to do merely with the rapid 
exercise of ordinary powers ? 

In the first place, it is clear that much of what is called improvisation 
is a matter of memory. The so-called secondary automatism which 
enables the pianist to play a known piece without conscious attention 
passes easily into improvisations which the player himself may genuinely 
accept as original; but which really consist of remembered fragments 
united by conventional links of connection. Thus also the orator, " think- 
ing on his legs," trusts himself at first to the automatic repetition of a few 
stock phrases, but gradually finds that long periods flow unforeseen and 
unremembered from his tongue. 

We thus get beyond the range of stereotyped synergies, of habituations 
of particular groups of nerve-centres to common action. There is some 
adaptability and invention; some new paths are traversed; adjustments 
are made for which no mere recurrence to old precedents will suffice. 

The problem here resembles that well-known difficulty of explaining 
what goes on during the restoration or "substitution" of function after 
an injury to the brain. In that case, the brain-elements which remain 


uninjured slowly assume functions which they apparently never exercised 
before, — rearranging paths of cerebral communication in order to get 
the old efficiency out of the damaged and diminished brain-material. This 
recovery is not rapid like an extemporisation, but gradual, like a healing 
or re-growth, and it therefore does not suggest an intelligent control so 
much as a physiological process, like the re-budding on a certain pre- 
ordained pattern of the severed claw of a crab. Of course this restoration 
of brain-functions is inexplicable, as all growth is at present inexplicable. 
We may call it indeed with some reason the highest process of human 
growth. So viewed, it forms a kind of middle term between ordinary 
growth of bone or muscle, always on a predetermined plan, and that sudden 
creation of new cerebral connections or pathways which is implied in an 
inspiration of genius. Such a juxtaposition need not weaken my claim 
that the inspirations of genius represent a co-operant stream of submerged 
mentation, fully as developed in its own way as the mentation of which 
we are conscious above the threshold. The nature and degree of sub- 
liminal faculty must of course be judged by its highest manifestations. 
And this analogy between the hidden operations of genius and of growth 
would rather support me in regarding organic growth also as controlled 
by something of intelligence or memory, which under fitting conditions 
— as in the hypnotic trance — may be induced to co-operate with the 
waking will. 

Moreover, the talent of improvisation, which suggested these analogies, 
will sometimes act much more persistently than in the case of the orator 
or the musician. There is reason to believe (both from internal style 
and from actual statements) that it plays a large part in imaginative liter- 
ature. Various passages from George Sand's life-history, corroborated 
by the statements of other persons familiar with her methods of working, 
reveal in her an unusual vigour and fertility of literary outflow going on 
in an almost dream-like condition; a condition midway between the 
actual inventive dreams of R. L. Stevenson and the conscious labour 
of an ordinary man's composition. 

What George Sand felt in the act of writing was a continuous and 
effortless flow of ideas, sometimes with and sometimes without an apparent 
externalisation of the characters who spoke in her romances. And turning 
to another author, as sane and almost as potent as George Sand her- 
self, we find a phenomenon which would have suggested to us actual in- 
sanity if observed in a mind less robust and efficient. If the allusions 
to the apparent independence of Dickens's characters which are scattered 
through his letters be read with our related facts in view, it will no longer 


be thought that they are intended as a mystification. Mrs. Gamp, his 
greatest creation, spoke to him, he tells us (generally in church) as with 
an inward monitory voice. 

And note further that as scientific introspection develops we are likely 
to receive fuller accounts of these concurrent mental processes, these partial 
externalisations of the creatures of the romancer's brain. One such 
account, both definite and elaborate, has been published by M. Binet 
in VAnnee Psychologique for 1894. 1 

This account, — contributed as serious evidence, as M. Binet's long 
article shows, — is thoroughly concordant with several other cases already 
known to us. It comes midway between Stevenson's dreams and the 
hysteric's idees fixes. 

I have thus far endeavoured to show that Genius represents not only 
the crystallisation of ideas already existing in floating form in the supra- 
liminal intelligence, but also an independent, although concurrent, stream 
of mentation, spreading often to wider range, although still concerned 
with matters in themselves cognisable by the normal intelligence. 

Let us proceed to push the inquiry a step further. It has been claimed 
in this work for subliminal uprushes generally that they often contain 
knowledge which no ordinary method of research could acquire. Is this 
supernormal knowledge — we ought now to ask — ever represented in 
the uprushes to which we give the name of Genius? 

What is the relation, in short, of the man of Genius to the 
sensitive ? 

If the man of Genius be, as I have urged, on the whole the completest 
type of humanity, and if the sensitive's special gift be in itself one of the 
most advanced forms of human faculty, ought not the inspirations of 
genius to bring with them flashes of supernormal knowledge as intimate 
as those which the sensitive — perhaps in other respects a commonplace 
person — from time to time is privileged to receive ? 

Some remarkable instances of this kind undoubtedly do exist. The 
most conspicuous and most important of all cannot, from motives of rever- 
ence, be here discussed. Nor will I dwell upon other founders of religions, 
or on certain traditional saints or sages. But among historical characters 
of the first mark the names of Socrates and of Joan of Arc are enough 
to cite. I believe that the monitions of the Daemon of Socrates — the 
subliminal self of a man of transcendent genius — have in all probability 
been described to us with literal truth: and did in fact convey to that great 
philosopher precisely the kind of telsesthetic or precognitive information 

1 VAnnee Psychologique, i. 1894, p. 124, F. de Curel, par A. Binet [§ 330]. 


which forms the sensitive's privilege to-day. We have thus in Socrates 
the ideal unification of human powers. 

It must, however, be admitted that such complete unification is not the 
general rule for men of genius; that their inspirations generally stop short 
of telepathy or of telaesthesia. I think we may explain this limitation 
somewhat as follows. The man of genius is what he is by virtue of pos- 
sessing a readier communication than most men possess between his supra- 
liminal and his subliminal self. From his subliminal self, he can only 
draw what it already possesses; and we must not assume as a matter of 
course that the subliminal region of any one of us possesses that particular 
sensitivity — that specific transparency — which can receive and register 
definite facts from the unseen. That may be a gift which stands as much 
alone — in independence of other gifts or faculties — jp the subliminal 
region as, say, a perfect musical ear in the supraliminal. The man of 
genius may draw much from those hidden wells of being without seeing 
reflected therein any actual physical scene in the universe beyond his 
ordinary ken. 

And yet neither must we hastily assume that because the man of genius 
gets no definite impression of a world beyond our senses he does not 
therefore get any true impression, which is all his own. 

I believe, on the contrary, that true, though vague, impressions of a 
world beyond the range of sense are actually received — I do not say by 
all men of genius, but by men of genius of certain types. 1 

A dim but genuine consciousness of the spiritual environment ; that 
(it seems) is the degree of revelation which artistic or philosophic genius 
is capable of conferring. Subliminal uprushes, in other words, so far as 
they are intellectual, tend to become telczsthetic. They bring with them 
indefinite intimations of what I hold to be the great truth that the 
human spirit is essentially capable of a deeper than sensorial perception, 
of a direct knowledge of facts of the universe outside the range of any 
specialised organ or of any planetary view. 

But this conclusion points the way to a speculation more important 
still. Telaesthesia is not the only spiritual law, nor are subliminal up- 
rushes affairs of the intellect alone. Beyond and above man's innate 
power of world-wide perception, there exists also that universal link of 
spirit with spirit which in its minor earthly manifestations we call telepathy. 
Our submerged faculty — the subliminal uprushes of genius — can ex- 

1 In Wordsworth's Prelude we find introspective passages of extreme psychologi- 
cal interest as being deliberate attempts to tell the truth about exactly those 
emotions and intuitions which differentiate the poet from common men. 


pand in that direction as well as in the direction of telaesthesia. The 
emotional content, indeed, of those uprushes is even profounder and more 
important than the intellectual; — in proportion as Love and Religion 
are profounder and more important than Science or Art. 

That primary passion, I repeat, which binds life to life, which links 
us both to life near and visible and to life imagined but unseen; — that 
is no mere organic, no mere planetary impulse, but the inward aspect 
of the telepathic law. Love and religion are thus continuous; they repre- 
sent different phases of one all-pervading mutual gravitation of souls. 
The flesh does not conjoin, but dissever; although through its very 
severance it suggests a shadow of the union which it cannot bestow. We 
have to do here neither with a corporeal nor with a purely human 
emotion. Love is the energy of integration which makes a Cosmos of 
the Sum of Things. 

But here there is something of controversy to traverse before a revived 
Platonic conception of love can hope to be treated by the physiologist as 
more than a pedantic jest. And naturally so; since there is no emotion 
subliminal over so wide a range of origin, — fed so obscurely by "all 
thoughts, all passions, all delights," — and consequently so mysterious 
even to the percipient himself. At one end of its scale love is based upon 
an instinct as primitive as the need of nutrition; even if at the other end it 
becomes, as Plato has it, the epfirjvevov k<u SunropOfievov "the Interpreter 
and Mediator between God and Man." The controversy as to the 
planetary or cosmical scope of the passion of Love is in fact central 
to our whole subject. 

It will give clearness to the question in dispute if I quote here a strong 
expression of each view in turn. For the physiological or materialist 
conception of the passion of love, — where love's subliminal element is 
held to be of the organic type, — set forth in no light or cynical spirit, but 
with the moral earnestness of a modern Lucretius, I can turn to no better 
authority than Professor Pierre Janet. The passage which follows is no 
mere boutade or paradox; it is a kind of culminating expression of the 
theory which regards the supraliminal man as the normal man, and 
distrusts all deep disturbance of his accustomed psychical routine. 

It is commonly said that love is a passion to which man is always 
liable, and which may surprise him at any moment of his life from 15 
to 75. This does not seem to me accurate; and a man is not throughout 
all his life and at every moment susceptible of falling in love (de devenir 
amoureux). When a man is in good physical and moral health, when 
he has easy and complete command of all his ideas, he may expose him- 


self to circumstances the most capable of giving rise to a passion, but 
he will not feel it. His desires will be reasonable and obedient to his 
will, leading the man only so far as he wishes to go, and disappearing 
when he wishes to be rid of them. On the other hand, if a man is morally 
below the mark (malade au moral), — if in consequence of physical fatigue 
or excessive intellectual work, or of violent shocks and prolonged sorrow, 
he is exhausted, melancholy, distracted, timid, incapable of controlling 
his ideas, — in a word, depressed, — then he will fall in love, or receive 
the germ of some kind of passion, on the first and most trivial occasion. . . . 
The least thing is then enough; the sight of some face, a gesture, a word, 
which previously would have left us altogether indifferent, strikes us, 
and becomes the starting point of a long amorous malady. Or more 
than this, an object which had made no impression on us, at a moment 
when our mind was healthier and not capable of inoculation, may have 
left in us some insignificant memory which reappears in a moment of 
morbid receptivity. That is enough; the germ is sown in a favourable 
soil; it will develop itself and grow. 

There is at first, as in every virulent malady, a period of incubation; 
the new idea passes and repasses in the vague reveries of the enfeebled 
consciousness; then seems for a few days to have disappeared and to leave 
the mind to recover from its passing trouble. But the idea has done 
its work below the surface; it has become strong enough to shake the body; 
and to provoke movements whose origin lies outside the primary con- 
sciousness. What is the surprise of a sensible man when he finds himself 
piteously returning beneath the windows of his charmer, whither his wan- 
dering feet have taken him without his knowledge; — or when in the 
midst of his daily work he hears his lips murmuring perpetually the well- 
known name! . . . Such is passion in its reality; not as idealised by fan- 
tastic description, but reduced to its essential psychological characteristics. 
{V Automatisme Psychologique, p. 466.) 

On the other side I will appeal to Plato himself, giving a brief sketch 
merely of one of the leading passages (Symposium, 192-212) where the 
Platonic conception of love is set forth. 1 

Plato begins by recognising, as fully as pessimist or cynic could do, 
the absolute inadequacy of what is called on earth the satisfaction of this 
profound desire. Lovers who love aright will feel that no physical near- 
ness can content them, but what will content them they cannot say. " Their 
soul," says Plato, "is manifestly desiring something else; and what it is 

1 In the passage which follows some use has been made of Jowett's translation. It 
is noticeable that this utterance, unsurpassed among the utterances of antiquity, has 
been placed by Plato in the mouth of a woman — the prophetess Diotima — with 
the express intention, as I think, of generalising it, and of raising it above the region 
of sexual passion. There is nothing else in antiquity resembling the position thus 
ascribed to Diotima in reference to Socrates, — the woman being represented as 
capable of raising the highest and of illumining the wisest soul. 


she cannot tell, only she darkly prophesies thereof and guesses it from 
afar. But if Hephaestus with his forging fire were to stand beside that 
pair and say: 'Is this what ye desire — to be wholly one? to be together 
by night and day ? — for I am ready to melt you together and to make you 
grow in one, so that from two ye shall become one only, and in this life 
shall be undivided, and dying shall die together, and in the underworld 
shall be a single soul'; — there is no lover who would not eagerly accept 
the offer, and acknowledge it as the expression of the unknown yearning 
and the fulfilment of the ancient need." And through the mouth of Dio- 
tima, Plato insists that it is an unfailing sign of true love that its desires 
are for ever; nay, that love may be even defined as the desire of the ever- 
lasting possession of the good. And in all love's acts he finds the impress 
of man's craving for immortality, — for immortality whose only visible 
image for us on earth is the birth of children to us as we ourselves decay, 
— so that when the slow self-renewal of our own everchanging bodies 
has worn out and ceased, we may be renewed in brighter, younger bodies 
which we desire to be born to us from whomsoever we find most fair. 
"And then," says Plato, rising, as ever, from visible to invisible things, 
" if active bodies have so strong a yearning that an endless series of lovely 
images of themselves may constitute, as it were, an earthly immortality 
for them when they have worn away, how greatly must creative souls 
desire that partnership and close communion with other souls as fair as 
they may bring to birth a brood of lofty thoughts, poems, statues, insti- 
tutions, laws, — the fitting progeny of the soul ? 

"And he who in his youth hath the need of these things in him, and 
grows to be a godlike man, wanders about in search of a noble and well- 
nurtured soul; and finding it, and in presence of that beauty which he 
forgets not night or day, brings forth the beautiful which he conceived 
long ago; and the twain together tend that which he hath brought forth, 
and are bound by a far closer bond than that of earthly children, since 
the children which are born to them are fairer and more immortal far. 
Who would not choose to have Homer's offspring rather than any sons or 
daughters of men ? Who would not choose the offspring which Lycurgus 
left behind him, to be the very salvation of Lacedaemon and of Greece? 
or the children of Solon, whom we call Father of our Laws ? or of other 
men like these, whether Greeks or barbarians, who by great deeds that 
they have done have become the begetters of every kind of virtue ? — ay, 
and to these men's children have temples been set up, and never to any 
other progeny of man. ..." 

"He, then, who to this end would strive aright, must begin in youth 


to seek fair forms, and should learn first to love one fair form only, and 
therein to engender noble thoughts. And then he will perceive that the 
beauty of one fair form is to the beauty of another near akin; and that if 
it be Beauty's self he seek, it were madness not to account the beauty of 
all forms as one same thing; and considering this, he will be the lover of 
all lovely shapes, and will abate his passion for one shape alone, despising 
and deeming it but a little thing. And this will lead him on to see that 
the beauty of the soul is far more precious than any beauty of outward 
form, so that if he find a fair soul, though it be in a body which hath but 
little charm, he will be constant thereunto, and bring to birth such thoughts 
as teach and strengthen, till he lead that soul on to see the beauty of actions 
and of laws, and how all beauty is in truth akin, and the body's beauty is 
but a little matter; and from actions he will lead him on to sciences, that 
he may see how sciences are fair; and looking on the abundance of beauty 
may no longer be as the slave or bondman of one beauty or of one law; 
but setting sail into the ocean of beauty, and creating and beholding many 
fair and glorious thoughts and images in a philosophy without stint or 
stay, he may thus at last wax strong and grow, and may perceive that 
there is one science only, the science of infinite beauty. 

"For he who hath thus far had intelligence of love, and hath beheld all 
fair things in order and aright, — he drawing near to the end of things 
lovable shall behold a Being marvellously fair; for whose sake in truth it 
is that all the previous labours have been undergone: One who is from 
everlasting, and neither is born nor perisheth, nor can wax nor wane, nor 
hath change or turning or alteration of foul and fair; nor can that beauty 
be imagined after the fashion of face or hands or bodily parts and mem- 
bers, nor in any form of speech or knowledge, nor as dwelling in aught 
but in itself; neither in beast nor man nor earth nor heaven nor any other 
creature; but Beauty only and alone and separate and eternal, which, 
albeit all other fair things partake thereof and grow and perish, itself 
without change or increase or diminution endures for everlasting. And 
whoso being led on and upward by human loves begins to see that Beauty, 
he is not far, I say, from reaching the end of all. And surely then, O 
Socrates (said that guest from Mantinea), man's life is worth the living, 
when he beholds that Primal Fair; which when thou seest it shall not 
seem to thee to be made after the fashion of gold or raiment or those forms 
of earth, — whom now beholding thou art stricken dumb, and fain, if it 
were possible, without thought of meat or drink, wouldst look and love 
for ever. What would it be, then, were it granted to any man to see Very 
Beauty clear; — incorruptible and undefiled, not mingled with colour 


or flesh of man, or with aught that can consume away, but single and 
divine? Could man's life, in that vision and beatitude, be poor or low? 
or deemest thou not (said she), that then alone it will be possible for this 
man, discerning spiritual beauty with those eyes by which it is spiritually 
discerned, to beget no shadows of virtue, since that is no shadow to which 
he clings, but virtue in very truth, since he hath the very Truth in his 
embrace? and begetting and rearing Virtue as his child, he must needs 
become the friend of God; and if there be any man who is immortal, 
that man is he." 

Between the aspects of love here expressed in extreme terms, — the 
planetary aspect, if I may so term it, and the cosmical, — the choice is 
momentous. I do not indeed say that in our estimate of love is involved 
our estimate of Religion; for Religion should mean the sane response of 
the spirit to all that is known of Cosmic Law. But Religion in the sense 
in which it is often used, — our emotional and ethical attitude towards 
Life Unseen; — this is in reality too closely parallel to Platonic Love to 
allow the psychologist who denies reality in the one to assume reality in 
the other. For the Platonic lover the image of the Beloved one — no 
longer a matter of conscious summons and imagination — has become 
the indwelling and instinctive impulse to noble thought and deed. Even 
such to a Francis or to a Theresa is the image of the Divinity whom they 
adore; and if they claim that sometimes in moments of crisis they feel 
a sway, a guidance, a communicatio idiomatum with the Divine, we may 
point in reply to the humbler, but more tangible, evidence which assures 
us that even between souls still inhabiting and souls who have quitted the 
flesh there may exist a telepathic intercommunication and an impalpable 
confluence from afar. 

Brief as this survey has been, it has served to indicate that the 
psychical type to which we have applied the name of genius may be 
recognized in every region of thought and emotion, as in each direction 
a man's every-day self may be more or less permeable to subliminal 
impulses. Coming, then, to the question, "What is the origin of 
genius?" I cannot accept the ordinary explanation that it is a mere 
"sport" or mental by-product, occurring as physical "sports" do in the 
course of evolution. The view which I hold, — the view which I am 
here suggesting, is in some sort a renewal of the old Platonic "reminis- 
cence," in the light of that fuller knowledge which is common property 
to-day. I hold that in the protoplasm or primary basis of all organic 
life there must have been an inherent adaptability to the manifesta- 
tion of all faculties which organic life has in fact manifested. I hold, 


of course, that "sports" or variations occur, which are at present 
unpredictable, and which reveal in occasional offspring faculties which 
their parents showed no signs of possessing. But I differ from those who 
hold that the faculty itself thus manifested is now for the first time 
initiated in that stock by some chance combination of hereditary 
elements. I hold that it is not initiated, but only revealed; that the 
"sport" has not called a new faculty into being, but has merely raised 
an existing faculty above the threshold of supraliminal consciousness. 

This view, if pushed back far enough, is no doubt inconsistent with 
the way in which evolution is generally conceived. For it denies that all 
human faculties must have been evoked by terrene experience. It assumes 
a subliminal self, with unknown faculties, originated in some unknown 
way, and not merely by contact with the needs which the terrene organism 
has had to meet. It thus seems at first sight to be introducing a new 
mystery, and to be introducing it in a gratuitous way. 

To this I reply in the first place that so far as the origin of man's known 
powers is concerned, no fresh mystery is in fact introduced. All human 
powers, to put the thing broadly, have somehow or other to be got into 
protoplasm and then got out again. You have to explain first how they 
became implicit in the earliest and lowest living thing, and then how they 
have become thus far explicit in the latest and highest. All the faculties 
of that highest being, I repeat, existed virtually in the lowest, and in so 
far as the admitted faculties are concerned, the difference between my 
view and the ordinary view may be said to be little more than a difference 
as to the sense which that word virtually is here to assume. 

The real difference between the two views appears when the faculties 
which I have called unknown come to be considered. If they are held 
to be real, my view is certainly the better able to embrace them. I hold 
that telepathy and telaesthesia do in fact exist — telepathy, a communica- 
tion between incarnate mind and incarnate mind, and perhaps between 
incarnate minds and minds unembodied; telaesthesia, a knowledge of 
things terrene which overpasses the limits of ordinary perception, and 
which perhaps also achieves an insight into some other than terrene world. 
And these faculties, I say, cannot have been acquired by natural selection, 
for the preservation of the race, during the process of terrene evolution; 
they were (as we may phrase it) the products of extra-terrene evolution. 
And if they were so, man's other powers may well have been so also. The 
specialised forms of terrene perception were not real novelties in the uni- 
verse, but imperfect adaptations of protoplasm to the manifestation of 
the indwelling general perceptive power. The mathematical faculty, 


for instance (we may, perhaps, say with Plato), pre-existed. When Dase 
solved all those sums in his head, his power of solving them was not a 
fresh development in his ancestral stock, but depended on the accidental 
adaptation of his organism to the manifestation of the indwelling compu- 
tative power. I do not indeed venture to follow Plato in his ontogenetic 
argument — his claim that the individual computator has had already 
an individual training in computation. I do not say that Dase himself 
learnt or divined the multiplication-table in some ideal world. I only 
say that Dase and all the rest of us are the spawn or output of some unseen 
world in which the multiplication-table is, so to speak, in the air. Dase 
trailed it after him, as the poet says of the clouds of glory, when he 
"descended into generation" in a humble position at Hamburg. 

In him and in his ancestors were many faculties which were called out 
by the struggle for existence, and became supraliminal. But there were 
many faculties also which were not thus called out, and which conse- 
quently remained subliminal. To these faculties, as a rule, his supra- 
liminal self could get no access. But by some chance of evolution — 
some sport — a vent-hole was opened at this one point between the different 
strata of his being, and a subliminal uprush carried his computative faculty 
into the open day. 

Two things, of course, are assumed in this argument for which Science 
offers no guarantee. I assume in the man a soul which can draw strength 
and grace from a spiritual Universe, and conversely I assume in the Uni- 
verse a Spirit accessible and responsive to the soul of man. These are 
familiar postulates. Every religion has claimed them in turn; although 
every religion in turn has so narrowed their application as grievously to 
narrow the evidence available for their support. But that which religions 
have claimed for their Founders or for their Saints — and what is sanctity 
but the genius of the ethical realm ? — Psychology must claim for every 
form of spiritual indrawing, every form of spiritual response; for sleeping 
vision, for hypnotic rejuvenation, for sensory and motor automatisms, for 
trance, for ecstasy. The philosopher who has cried with Marcus Aurelius 
"Either Providence or atoms!" — who has declared that without this 
basis in the Unseen, "the moral Cosmos would be reduced to a Chaos"; 
— should he not welcome even the humblest line of research which fain 
would gather from every unsolved problem some hint as to the spiritual 
law unknown which in time may give the solution of all ? 

We know not in what directions — directions how definitely predeter- 
mined — even physical organisms can vary from the common type. We 
know not what amount of energy any given plant or animal can absorb 


and incorporate from earth and air and sun. Still less can we predict 
or limit the possible variations of the soul, the fulness which it may receive 
from the World-Soul, its possible heritage of grace and truth. But in 
genius we can watch at each stage the processes of this celestial nurture. 
We can imagine the outlook of joyous trustfulness; we can almost seem, 
with Wordsworth, to remember the child's soul entering into the Kingdom 
of Heaven. Childhood is genius without capacity; it makes for most of 
us our best memory of inspiration, and our truest outlook upon the real, 
which is the ideal, world. 

From a greater distance we can watch the inward stir of mighty thought, 
the same for ^schylus, for Newton, for Virgil; — a stir independent of 
worldly agitation; like the swing and libration of the tide- wave across 
the ocean, which takes no note of billow or of storm. 

Nay, we can see against the sun "the eagle soaring above the tomb 
of Plato," and in Paul, as in Plotinus, we can catch that sense of self- 
fulfilment in self-absorption, of rapture, of deliverance, which the highest 
minds have bequeathed to us as the heritage of their highest hours. 

These our spiritual ancestors are no eccentrics nor degenerates; they 
have made for us the sanest and most fruitful experiment yet made by 
man; they have endeavoured to exalt the human race in a way in which 
it can in truth be exalted; they have drawn on forces which exist, and on 
a Soul which answers; they have dwelt on those things "by dwelling on 
which it is," as Plato has it, "that even God is divine." 



dXftiq. 5' diravres afcrq, \valirovov p.€T<xvl<r<rovTai reXevrdv. 

kclI trtD/xa jxkv iravruv tirerai 6avdr(p Trepurdtvei, 

%b)bv 5' en \hirerai alQpos etdoSKov rb ydp iari [ibvov 

iic de&v evdei 8£ irpaacrbvTuv p.e\£<av, drdp €vdbvT€<r<rtu eV 7ro\\o?5 ovetpou 

delKPvo-i repirvQv {<p4pTroio-av x a ^ €ir & v T€ Kplcrtv. 

— Pindar. 

The preceding chapters have carried us two steps upon our way. In 
Chapter II. we gained some insight into the structure of human person- 
ality by analysing some of the accidents to which it is subject; in the 
third chapter we viewed this personality in its normal waking state, and 
considered how that norm should be denned, and in what manner certain 
fortunate persons had integrated the personality still further by utilising 
uprushes of subliminal faculty to supplement or to crystallise the products 
of supraliminal thought. 

The review of these two chapters indicates clearly enough what my 
next step must be. It is obvious that in my review of phases or alterna- 
tions of personality I have left out of sight the most constant, the most 
important alternation of all. I have thus far said nothing of sleep. Yet 
that change of personality, at least, has been borne in on every one's notice; 
— not, certainly, as a morbid curiosity, but as an essential part of life. 

Let us then consider the specific characteristics of sleep. The defini- 
tion of sleep is an acknowledged crux in physiology. And I would point 
out that the increased experience of hypnotic sleep which recent years 
have afforded has made this difficulty even more striking than before. 
A physiological explanation must needs assume that some special bodily 
condition, — such, for instance, as the clogging of the brain by waste- 
products, — is at least the usual antecedent of sound sleep. But it is 
certain, on the other hand, that with a large percentage of persons pro- 
found and prolonged sleep can be induced, in any bodily condition, by 
simple suggestion. Hypnosis, indeed (as Wetterstrand and others have 
shown) may be prolonged, with actual benefit to the sleeper, far beyond 



the point which the spontaneous sleep of a healthy subject ever reaches. 
A good subject can be awakened and thrown into hypnosis again almost 
at pleasure, and independently of any state either of nutrition or of fatigue. 
Such sleep belongs to those phenomena which we may call nervous if we 
will, but which we can observe or influence from the psychological side 

We can hardly hope, from the ordinary data, to arrive at a definition 
of sleep more satisfactory than others have reached. We must defer that 
attempt until we have collected something more than the ordinary evidence 
as to what occurs or does not occur during the abeyance of waking life. 
One point, however, is plain at once. We cannot treat sleep, — as it has 
generally been treated, — in its purely negative aspect. We cannot be 
content merely to dwell, with the common text-books, on the mere absence 
of waking faculties; — on the diminution of external perception, the ab- 
sence of controlling intelligence. We must treat sleep positively, so far 
as we can, as a definite phase of our personality, co-ordinate with the waking 
phase. Each phase, as I believe, has been differentiated alike from a 
primitive indifference; — from a condition of lowly organisms which 
merited the name neither of sleep nor of waking. Nay, if there were to 
be a contest as to which state should be deemed primary and which second- 
ary, sleep might put forward its claim to be regarded as the more primitive 
phase. It is sleep rather than vigilance which prenatal and infantile life 
suggest; and even for us adults, however much we may associate ourselves 
in thought with the waking state alone, that state has at least thus much 
of secondary and adventitious that it is maintained for short periods only, 
which we cannot artificially lengthen, being plainly unable to sustain itself 
"without frequent recourse to that fuller influx of vitality which slumber 

Out of slumber proceeds each fresh arousal and initiation of waking 
activities. What other activities may in slumber be aroused and initiated 
the evidence to be set forth in this chapter should help us to say. To 
some extent at least the abeyance of the supraliminal life must be the 
liberation of the subliminal. To some extent the obscuration of the noon- 
day glare of man's waking consciousness must reveal the far-reaching 
faint corona of his unsuspected and impalpable powers. 

Entering, then, upon a review of sleeping faculty, thus inevitably im- 
perfect, we may best begin from the red end of our spectrum of conscious- 
ness; — the red end which represents the deepest power which waking 
effort can exert upon our physical organism. 

Our survey of the efficacy of sleep, indeed, must make its beginning 


beyond that limit. For assuredly in sleep some agency is at work which 
far surpasses waking efficacy in this respect. It is a fully admitted, al- 
though an absolutely unexplained fact, that the regenerative quality of 
healthy sleep is something sui generis, which no completeness of waking 
quiescence can rival or approach. A few moments of sleep — a mere blur 
across the field of consciousness — will sometimes bring a renovation which 
hours of lying down in darkness and silence would not yield. A mere 
bowing of the head on the breast, if consciousness ceases for a second or 
two, may change a man's outlook on the world. At such moments, — and 
many persons, like myself, can fully vouch for their reality, — one feels that 
what has occurred in one's organism, — alteration of blood-pressure, or 
whatever it be, — has been in some sense discontinuous ; that there has been 
a break in the inward regime, amounting to much more than a mere brief 
ignoring of stimuli from without. The break of consciousness is associated 
in some way with a potent physiological change. That is to say, even in 
the case of a moment of ordinary sleep we already note the appearance of 
that special recuperative energy which is familiar in longer periods of sleep, 
and which, as we shall presently see, reaches a still higher level in hyp- 
notic trance. 

This recuperative power, then, lies just beyond the red end of our 
spectrum of waking faculty. In that obscure region we note only added 
power; an increased control over organic functions at the foundation of 
bodily life. But when we pass on within the limits of our spectrum of 
waking consciousness; — when we come to control over voluntary muscles, 
or to sensory capacity, we find that our comparison between sleeping and 
waking faculty is no longer a simple one. On the one hand, there is of 
course a general blank and abeyance of control over the realm of waking 
energies; — or in partial sleep a mere fantastic parody of those energies 
in incoherent dream. On the other hand, we find that sleep is capable 
of strange developments, — and that night can sometimes suddenly outdo 
the most complex achievements of day. 

Take first the degree of control over the voluntary muscles. In or- 
dinary sleep this is neither possessed nor desired; in nightmare its loss is 
exaggerated, in quasi-hysterical fashion, into an appalling fear; while in 
somnambulism, — a kind of new personality developed ad hoc, — the 
sleeper (as we shall see later on) walks on perilous ridges with steady feet. 
I have already said that morbid somnambulism bears to sound sleep a 
relation something like that which hysteria bears to normal life. But 
between the healthy somnambulist and the subject of nightmare we find 
from another point of view a contrast resembling that between the man 


of genius and the hysteric. The somnambulist, like the man of genius, 
brings into play resources which are beyond ordinary reach. On the other 
hand, just as in many hysterics certain ordinary powers of movement have 
lapsed below voluntary control, so also the dreamer who dimly wishes to 
move a constrained limb is often unable to send thither a sufficient current 
of motor energy to effect the desired change of position. That nightmare 
inability to move, which we thus feel in dream, — "when neither he that 
fleeth can flee, nor he that pursueth pursue," — that sensation which both 
Homer and Virgil have selected as the type of paralysing bewilderment, 1 
— this is just the dboulia of the hysteric ; — the condition when it takes a 
man half an hour to put on his hat, or when a woman sits all the morning 
looking at her knitting, but unable to add a stitch. 

"Somnambulism," however, is too vague and undefined a term for 
our present discussion. It will only be by a comparison with hypnotism, 
in the next chapter, that we can hope to get some clearer notion of "sleep- 
waking" states. 

Let us pass on to consider entencephalic sensory faculty, — "mind's 
eye" faculty, — as shown in sleep or dream. Here too we shall find the 
same rule to prevail as with motor faculty. That is to say, on the whole 
the sensory faculty is of course dimmed and inhibited by sleep; but there 
are nevertheless indications of a power subsisting as vividly as ever, or 
with even added acuteness. 

Baillarger in France and Griesinger in Germany (both about 1845) 
were among the first to call attention to the vivid images which rise before 
the internal vision of many persons, between sleep and waking. M. Alfred 
Maury, the well-known Greek scholar and antiquary, gave to these images 
a few years later the title of illusions hypnagogiques, and published a re- 
markable series of observations upon himself. Mr. Galton has further 
treated of them in his Inquiry into Human Faculty; and cases will be 
found in Phantasms oj the Living, vol. i, pp. 390, 473, etc. 

These visions may be hypnopompic as well as hypnagogic; — may 
appear, that is to say, at the moment when slumber is departing as well as 
at the moment when it is coming on; — and in either case they are closely 
related to dreams; the "hypnagogic illusions" or pictures being sometimes 
repeated in dream (as with Maury), and the hypnopompic pictures con- 
sisting generally in the persistence of some dream-image into the first 
moments of waking. In either case they testify to an intensified power 
of inward visualisation at a very significant moment ; — a moment which 
is actually or virtually one of sleep, but which yet admits of definite 
1 Iliad, xxii. 199 ; JEneid, xii. 908. 


comparison with adjacent moments of waking. We may call the condition 
one of cerebral or " mind's eye" hyperesthesia, — an exalted sensibility of 
special brain-centres in response to those unknown internal stimuli which 
are always giving rise to similar but fainter inward visions even in broadly 
waking hours. 

For those who are already good visualisers such phenomena as these, 
though striking enough, present no quite unique experience. For bad 
visualisers, on the other hand, the vividness of these hypnagogic pictures 
may be absolutely a revelation. 

The degree of acuteness, not of the visualising faculty alone, but of all 
the senses in dream, is a subject for direct observation, and even — for 
persons who can at all control their dreams — for direct experiment. 
Some correspondents report a considerable apparent accession of sen- 
sory power in dream. Others again speak of the increased vividness 
of dramatic conception, or of what has been called in a hypnotic sub- 
ject " objectivation of types." "In each of these dreams," writes one 
lady, "I was a man; — in one of them a low brute, in the other a dip- 
somaniac. I never had the slightest conception of how such persons 
felt or thought until these experiences." Another correspondent speaks 
of dreaming two disconnected dreams, — one emotional and one geo- 
metrical, — simultaneously, and of consequent sense of confusion and 

The "Chapter on Dreams," in R. L. Stevenson's volume, Across the 
Plains (already referred to in the last chapter), contains a description of 
the most successful dream-experiments thus far recorded. By self-sugges- 
tion before sleep Stevenson could secure a visual and dramatic intensity of 
dream-representation which furnished him with the motives for some of his 
most striking romances. His account, written with admirable psycho- 
logical insight, is indispensable to students of this subject. I am mention- 
ing these well-known phenomena, as the reader will understand, with a 
somewhat novel purpose — to show, namely, that the internal sensory 
perceptions or imaginative faculty of sleep may exceed that of vigilance in 
something the same way as the recuperative agency of sleep surpasses the 
vis medicatrix of waking hours. 

I pass on to a less frequent phenomenon, which shows us at once in- 
tense imagination during sleep, and a lasting imprint left by these imagina- 
tions upon the waking organism; — an unintended self-suggestion which 
we may compare with Stevenson's voluntary self-suggestion mentioned 
just above. 

The permanent result of a dream, I say, is sometimes such as to show 


that the dream has not been a mere superficial confusion of past waking 
experiences, but has had an unexplained potency of its own, — drawn, like 
the potency of hypnotic suggestion, from some depth in our being which 
the waking self cannot reach. Two main classes of this kind are conspicu- 
ous enough to be easily recognised — those, namely, where the dream 
has led to a "conversion" or marked religious change, and those where it 
has been the starting-point of an " insistent idea" or of a fit of actual in- 
sanity. 1 The dreams which convert, reform, change character and creed, 
have of course a prima facie claim to be considered as something other 
than ordinary dreams; and their discussion may be deferred till a later 
stage of our inquiry. Those, on the other hand, which suddenly generate 
an insistent idea of an irrational type are closely and obviously analogous 
to post-hypnotic self-suggestions, which the self that inspired them cannot 
be induced to countermand. Such is the dream related by M. Taine, 2 
where a gendarme, impressed by an execution at which he has assisted, 
dreams that he himself is to be guillotined, and is afterwards so influenced 
by the dream that he attempts suicide. Several cases of this kind have 
been collected by Dr. Faure ; 3 and Dr. Tissie, in his interesting little work, 
Les Reves, has added some curious instances from his own observation. 

A striking illustration may be drawn from the following incident in the 
story of Krafft-Ebing's patient, 4 lima S., the genuineness of whose stigmata 
seems proved by that physician's care in observation, and by the painful- 
ness of certain experiments performed upon her by students as practical 
jokes and against her will: — 

May 6th, 1888. — The patient is disturbed to-day. She complains 
to the sister of severe pain under the left breast, thinks that the professor 
has burnt her in the night, and begs the sister to obtain a retreat for her 
in a convent, where she will be secure against such attacks. The sister's 
refusal causes a hystero-epileptic attack. [At length, in the hypnotic 
trance] the patient gives the following explanation of the origin of the 
pain: "Last night an old man came to me; he looked like a priest and 
came in company with a Sister of Charity, on whose collet there was a 
large golden B. I was afraid of her. The old man was amiable and 
friendly. He dipped a pen in the sister's pocket, and with it wrote a W 
and B on my skin under the left breast. Once he dipped his pen badly 
and made a blot in the middle of the figure. This spot and the B 
pain me severely, but the W does not. The man explained the W 

1 See Dr. Fere in Brain for January 1887. 

2 De V Intelligence, vol. i. p. 119. 

3 Archives de Medecine, vol. i. 1876, p. 554. 

4 An Experimental Study in Hypnotism, by Dr. R. von Krafft-Ebing, translated 
by Dr. C. G. Chaddock, p. 91. 


as meaning that I should go to the M church and confess at the W con- 

After this account the patient cried out and said, " There stands the 
man again. Now he has chains on his hands." 

When the patient woke into ordinary life she was suffering pain in 
the place indicated, where there were "superficial losses of substance, 
penetrating to the corium, which have a resemblance to a reversed W 
and B," with "a hyperaemic raised spot between the two." Nowhere 
in this peculiar neurotrophic alteration of the skin, which is identical 
with those previously produced experimentally, are there traces of in- 
flammation. The pain and the memory of the dream were removed 
by the doctor's suggestion; but the dream self-suggestion to confess at 
the M church persisted; and the patient, without knowing why, did 
actually go and confess to the priest of her vision. 

In this last case we have a dream playing the part of a powerful post- 
hypnotic suggestion. The meaning of this vague term "suggestion" we 
shall have to discuss in a later chapter. It is enough to notice here the 
great power of a subliminal suggestion which can make an impression so 
much stronger not only than the usual evanescent touch of dream, but than 
the actual experiences of waking day. 

But this case may also serve to lead us on to further reflections as to 
the connection between dream-memory and hypnotic memory, a connection 
which points, as we shall presently see, towards the existence of some sub- 
liminal continuity of memory, lying deeper down than the evocable memory 
of common life — the stock of conscious reminiscences on which we can 
draw at will. 

With regard to memory, as with regard to sensation, we seem in waking 
life to be dealing with a selection made for purposes of earthly use. From 
the pre-conscious unselective memory which depends on the mere organisa- 
tion of living matter, it is the task of consciousness, as it dawns in each 
higher organism, to make its own appropriate selection and to develop 
into distinctness certain helpful lines of reminiscence. The question of 
self-preservation — What must I needs be aware of in order to escape 
my foes ? — involves the question, What must I needs remember in order 
to act upon the facts of which I am aware? The selected currents of 
memory follow the selected avenues of sensation; what by disuse I lose 
the power of noticing at the time, I also lose the power of recalling 

For simpler organisms this rule may perhaps suffice. Man needs a 
more complex formula. For it may happen, as we have already seen, 
that two or more phases of personality in one man may each select from 
the mass of potential reminiscences a special group of memories of its own. 


These special groups, moreover, may bear to one another all kinds of 
relations; one may include another, or they may alternate and may be 
apparently co-exclusive. 

From these dissociations and alternations of memory there will be 
many lessons to learn. The lesson which here presents itself is not the 
least important. What is the relation of the sleeping state to these dis- 
sociated, these parallel or concentric memories ? Is it the case that when 
one memory includes another it is the waking memory — as one might 
expect from that state's apparently superior vividness — which shows itself 
the deeper, the more comprehensive record? 

The answer of actual experience to these questions is unexpectedly 
direct and clear. In every recorded instance — so far at least as my 
memory serves me, where there has been any unification between alternat- 
ing states, so as to make comparison possible — it is the memory furthest 
from waking life whose span is the widest, whose grasp of the organism's 
upstored impressions is the most profound. Inexplicable as this pheno- 
menon has been to observers who have encountered it without the needed 
key, the independent observations of hundreds of physicians and hypno- 
tists have united in affirming its reality. The commonest instance, of 
course, is furnished by the ordinary hypnotic trance. The degree of intel- 
ligence, indeed, which finds its way to expression in that trance or slumber 
varies greatly in different subjects and at different times. But when- 
soever there is enough of alertness to admit of our forming a judgment, we 
find that in the hypnotic state there is a considerable memory — though 
not necessarily a complete or a reasoned memory — of the waking state ; 
whereas with most subjects in the waking state — unless some special 
command be imposed upon the hypnotic self — there is no memory what- 
ever of the hypnotic state. In many hysterical conditions also the same 
general rule subsists ; namely, that the further we get from the surface the 
wider is the expanse of memory which we encounter. 

If all this be true, there are several points on which we may form 
expectations definite enough to suggest inquiry. Ordinary sleep is roughly 
intermediate between waking life and deep hypnotic trance; and it seems 
a priori probable that its memory will have links of almost equal strength 
with the memory which belongs to waking life and the memory which 
belongs to the hypnotic trance. And this is in fact the case; the fragments 
of dream-memory are interlinked with both these other chains. Thus, for 
example, without any suggestion to that effect, acts accomplished in the 
hypnotic trance may be remembered in dream; and remembered under 
the illusion which was thrown round them by the hypnotiser. Thus Dr. 

SLEEP 101 

Auguste Voisin suggested to a hypnotised subject to stab a patient — really 
a stuffed figure — in the neighbouring bed. 1 The subject did so; and of 
course knew nothing of it on waking. But three days afterwards he re- 
turned to the hospital complaining that his dreams were haunted by the 
figure of a woman, who accused him of having stabbed and killed her. 
Appropriate suggestion laid this ghost of a doll. 

Conversely, dreams forgotten in waking life may be remembered in the 
hypnotic trance. Thus Dr. TissiS's patient, Albert, dreamt that he was 
about to set out on one of his somnambulic " fugues," or aimless journeys, 
and when hypnotised mentioned to the physician this dream, which in his 
waking state he had forgotten. 2 The probable truth of this statement was 
shown by the fact that he did actually set out on the journey thus dreamt 
of, and that his journeys were usually preceded and incited by remem- 
bered dreams. 

I need not dwell on the existence, but at the same time the incomplete- 
ness, of our dream-memory of waking life ; nor on the occasional formation 
of a separate chain of memory, constructed from successive and cohering 
dreams. It should be added that we do not really know how far our 
memory in dream of waking life may have extended; since we can only 
infer this from our notoriously imperfect waking memory of past dreams. 

A cognate anticipation to which our theory will point will be that dream- 
memory will occasionally be found to fill up gaps in waking memory, 
other than those due to hypnotic trance; such so-called "ecmnesic" periods, 
for instance, as sometimes succeed a violent shock to the system, and may 
even embrace some space of time anterior to the shock. These periods 
themselves resemble prolonged and unremembered dreams. Such acci- 
dents, however, are so rare, and such dream-memory so hard to detect, 
that I mention the point mainly for the sake of theoretical completeness; 
and must think myself fortunate in being able to refer the reader to a recent 
case of M. Charcot's which affords an interesting confirmation of the 
suggested view. 3 

1 pass on to the still more novel and curious questions involved in 
the apparent existence of a dream-memory which, while accompanying 
the memory of ordinary life, seems also to have a wider purview, and to 

■ 1 Revue de VHypnotisme, June 1891, p. 302. 

2 Les Reves, p. 135. This remarkable patient afforded examples of many forms of 
communication of memory between different states of personality. See pp. 192-200 
for a conspectus of these complex recollections. 

3 Revue de Medecine, February 1892. A full account and discussion of the same 
case is contained in Dr. P. Janet's Nevroses et Idees fixes, vol. i. pp. 116 et seq. [§413]' 


indicate that the record of external events which is kept within us is far 
fuller than we know. 

Let us consider what stages such a memory may show. 

I. It may include events once known to the waking self, but now 
definitely forgotten. 

II. It may include facts which have fallen within the sensory field, 
but which have never been supraliminal^ "apperceived" or cognised in 
any way. And thus also it may indicate that from this wider range of 
remembered facts dream-inferences have been drawn; — which inferences 
may be retrospective, prospective, or, — if I may use a word of Pope's with a 
new meaning, circumspective, — that is to say, relating not to the past or 
to the future, but to the present condition of matters beyond the range of 
ordinary perception. It is plain that inferences of this kind (if they exist) 
will be liable to be mistaken for direct retrocognition, direct premonition, 
direct clairvoyance; while yet they need not actually prove anything more 
than a perception on the part of the subliminal self more far-reaching, — 
a memory more stable, — than is the perception or the memory of the 
supraliminal self which we know. 

These hypermnesic dreams, then, may afford a means of drawing our 
lines of evidence more exactly; of relegating some marvellous narratives 
to a realm of lesser marvel, and at the same time of realising more clearly 
what it is in the most advanced cases which ordinary theories are really 
powerless to explain. 

As to the first of the above-mentioned categories no one will raise any 
doubt. It is a familiar fact — or a fact only sufficiently unfamiliar to be 
noted with slight surprise — that we occasionally recover in sleep a memory 
which has wholly dropped out of waking consciousness. 

In such cases the original piece of knowledge has at the time made a 
definite impress on the mind, — has come well within the span of appre- 
hension of the supraliminal consciousness. Its reappearance after however 
long an interval is a fact to which there are already plenty of parallels. 
But the conclusion to which some cases seem to me to point is one of a 
much stranger character. I think that there is evidence to show that many 
facts or pictures which have never even for a moment come within the 
apprehension of the supraliminal consciousness are nevertheless retained 
by the subliminal memory, and are occasionally presented in dreams with 
what seems a definite purpose. I quote an interesting case in Appen- 
dix IV. A. 1 

1 See also Journal S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 142 (October 1889), and Proceedings of 
the American S.P.R., vol. i. No. 4, p. 363 [415 A and. Bj. 

SLEEP 103 

The same point, as we shall hereafter see, is illustrated by the pheno- 
mena of crystal- vision. Miss Goodrich-Freer, 1 for example, saw in the 
crystal the announcement of the death of a friend; — a piece of news 
which certainly had never been apprehended by her ordinary conscious 
self. On referring to the Times, it was found that an announcement of 
the death of some one of the same unusual name was contained in a sheet 
with which she had screened her face from the fire ; — so that the words 
may have fallen within her range of vision, although they had not reached 
what we broadly call her waking mind. 

This instance was of value from the strong probability that the news 
could never have been supraliminally known at all; — since it was too 
important to have been merely glanced at and forgotten. 

In these cases the dream-self has presented a significant scene, — has 
chosen, so to say, from its gallery of photographs the special picture 
which the waking mind desired, — but has not needed to draw any more 
complex inference from the facts presumably at its disposal. I have now 
to deal with a small group of dreams which reason as well as remember; 
— if indeed in some of them there be not something more than mere 
reasoning on facts already in some way acquired, — something which 
overpasses the scheme prescribed for the present chapter. 

In the first place we cannot doubt that definite data already known 
may sometimes be treated in somnambulism or ordinary dream with more 
than waking intelligence. Such are the cases of mathematical problems 
solved in somnambulism, or of the skeletal arrangement discovered by 
Agassiz in common sleep for scattered bones which had baffled his waking 
skill. I give in Appendix IV. B. the striking case of Professor Hilprecht 
where dream-intelligence is carried to its highest point. Professor Ro- 
maine Newbold (who records the case) is well versed in the analysis of 
evidence making for supernormal powers, and his explanation of the vision 
as the result of " processes of associative reasoning analogous to those of 
the upper consciousness" must, I think, be taken as correct. But had 
the incident occurred in a less critical age of the world, — in any 
generation, one may say, but this, — how majestic a proof would the 
phantasmal Babylonian's message be held to have afforded of his veritable 
co-operation with the modern savant in the reconstruction of his remote 

I repeat that with this case of Professor Hilprecht's we seem to have 
reached the utmost intensity of sleep faculty within the limits of our ordi- 
nary spectrum. In almost every region of that spectrum we have found 
1 Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 507. 


that the sleeper's faculty, under its narrow conditions, shows scattered 
signs of at least a potential equality with the faculty of waking hours. 

We have already seen this as regards muscular movements, as regards 
inward vision and audition, and as regards memory; and these last records 
complete the series by showing us the achievement in sleep of intellectual 
work of the severest order. Coleridge's Kubla Khan had long ago shown 
the world that a great poet might owe his masterpiece to the obscuration 
of waking sense. 1 And the very imperfection of Kubla Khan — the 
memory truncated by an interruption — may again remind us how partial 
must ever be our waking knowledge of the achievements of sleep. 

May I not, then, claim a real analogy between certain of the achieve- 
ments of sleep and the achievements of genius ? In both there is the same 
triumphant spontaneity, the same sense of drawing no longer upon the 
narrow and brief endurance of nerves and brain, but upon some unknown 
source exempt from those limitations. 

Thus far, indeed, the sleep-faculties which we have been considering, 
however strangely intensified, have belonged to the same class as the nor- 
mal faculties of waking life. We have now to consider whether we can 
detect in sleep any manifestation of supernormal faculty — any experience 
which seems to suggest that man is a cosmical spirit as well as a terrestrial 
organism, and is in some way in relation with a spiritual as well as with 
a material world. It will seem, in this view, to be natural that this com- 
merce with a spiritual environment should be more perceptible in sleep 
than in waking. The dogma which my point of view thus renders probable 
is perhaps, as a mere matter of history, the dogma of all dogmas which 
has been most universally believed by mankind. 

"Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus" — for how many narrow 
theological propositions have we not heard this proud claim — that they 
have been believed everywhere, and by everybody, and in every age? 
Yet what can approach the antiquity, the ubiquity, the unanimity of man's 
belief in the wanderings of the spirit in dream? In the Stone Age, the 
sceptic would have been rash indeed who ventured to contradict it. And 
though I grant that this " palaeolithic psychology" has gone out of fashion 
for the last few centuries, I do not think that (in view of the telaesthetic 
evidence now collected) we can any longer dismiss as a mere bizarrerie of 
dream-imagery the constant recurrence of the idea of visiting in sleep some 
distant scene, — with the acquisition thereby of new facts not otherwise 

Starting, then, not from savage authority, but from the evidential 

1 Caedmon's poem was traditionally said to have come to him in like fashion. 

SLEEP 105 

scrutiny of modern facts, we shall find, I think, that there are coincidences 
of dream with truth which neither pure chance nor any subconscious 
mentation of an ordinary kind will adequately explain. We shall find 
that there is a perception of concealed material objects or of distant scenes 
and also a perception of a communion with the thoughts and emotions of 
other minds. Both these phenomena have been noted sporadically in 
many ages and countries, and were observed with serious attention espe- 
cially by the early French mesmerists. The first group of phenomena 
was called clairvoyance or lucidite, and the second communication de pen- 
sees, or in English, thought-transference. These terms are scarcely com- 
prehensive enough to satisfy a more systematic study. The distant per- 
ception is not optical, nor is it confined even to the apparent sense of sight 
alone. It extends to all the senses, and includes also 'impressions hardly 
referable to any special sense. Similarly the communication between 
distant persons is not a transference of thought alone, but of emotion, of 
motor impulses, and of many impressions not easy to define. I ventured 
in 1882 to suggest the wider terms telcesthesia, sensation at a distance, and 
telepathy, fellow-feeling at a distance, and shall use these words in the 
present work. But I am far from assuming that these terms correspond 
with definite and clearly separated groups of phenomena, or comprise the 
whole field of supernormal faculty. On the contrary, I think it probable 
that the facts of the metetherial world are far more complex than the facts 
of the material world; and the ways in which spirits perceive and com- 
municate, apart from fleshly organisms, are subtler and more varied than 
any perception or communication which we know. 

I have hinted above at another line of demarcation which the dreamer's 
own sensations suggest, — the distinction between active psychical excur- 
sion or invasion and the passive reception of psychical invasion from with- 
out. But even here, as was also hinted, a clear line of division is hard 
to draw. For whether we are dealing with dream-perceptions of distant 
material scenes, or of distant living persons, or of discarnate spirits, it is 
often impossible for the dreamer himself to say either from what point he 
is himself observing, or where the scene of the vision is laid. 

For the present I must confine myself to a brief sketch of some of the 
main types of supernormal dreams, arranged in a kind of ascending order. 
I shall begin with such dreams as primarily suggest a kind of heightening 
or extension of the dreamer's own innate perceptive powers, as exercised 
on the world around him. And I shall end with dreams which suggest 
his entrance into a spiritual world, where commerce with incarnate or dis- 
carnate spirits is subject no longer to the conditions of earthly thought. 


I begin, then, with some dreams which seem to carry perceptive faculty 
beyond the point at which some unusual form of common vision can be 
plausibly suggested in explanation. Mr. Lewis's dream of the landing- 
order (Appendix IV. A) may be taken as an instance of such a dream. 1 

I will next refer to certain cases where the sleeper by clairvoyant vision 
discerns a scene of direct interest to a mind other than his own ; — as the 
danger or death of some near friend. Sometimes there is a flash of vision, 
which seems to represent correctly the critical scene. Sometimes there 
is what seems like a longer gaze, accompanied, perhaps by some sense of 
communion with the invaded person. And in some few cases — the most 
interesting of all — the circumstances of a death seem to be symbolically 
shown to a dreamer, as though by the deceased person, or by some intelli- 
gence connected with him. (See Mrs. Storie's narrative p. 109.) 

One of the best instances of the flash of vision is Canon Warburton's, 
which I quote from Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 338 — a case whose 
remoteness is rendered less of a drawback than usual by the character of 
the narrator and the simplicity and definiteness of the fact attested. 

The following is his account : — 

The Close, Winchester, July 16th, 1883. 

Somewhere about the year 1848 I went up from Oxford to stay a day 
or two with my brother, Acton Warburton, then a barrister, living at 
10 Fish Street, Lincoln's Inn. When I got to his chambers I found a 
note on the table apologising for his absence, and saying that he had 
gone to a dance somewhere in the West End, and intended to be home 
soon after one o'clock. Instead of going to bed, I dozed in an armchair, 
but started up wide awake exactly at one, ejaculating "By Jove! he's 
down!" and seeing him coming out of a drawing-room into a brightly 
illuminated landing, catching his foot in the edge of the top stair, and 
falling headlong, just saving himself by his elbows and hands. (The 
house was one which I had never seen, nor did I know where it was.) 
Thinking very little of the matter, I fell a-doze again for half an hour, 
and was awakened by my brother suddenly coming in and saying, " Oh, 
there you are! I have just had as narrow an escape of breaking my neck 
as I ever had in my life. Coming out of the ballroom, I caught my foot, 
and tumbled full length down the stairs." 

That is all. It may have been " only a dream," but I always thought 
it must have been something more. W. Warburton. 

In a second letter Canon Warburton adds : — 

July 20th, 1883. 
My brother was hurrying home from his dance, with some little self- 
repro'ach in his mind for not having been at his chambers to receive his 

1 The reader will find many similar cases in the Journal and Proceedings of the 
S.P.R. Several are quoted in Appendices to Section 421 in the unabridged edition. 

SLEEP 107 

guest, so the chances are that he was thinking of me. The whole scene 
was vividly present to me at the moment, but I did not note particulars 
any more than one would in real life. The general impression was of 
a narrow landing brilliantly illuminated, and I remember verifying the 
correctness of this by questions at the time. 

This is my sole experience of the kind. 

[The last words are in answer to the question whether he had had 
similar vivid visions which had not corresponded with any real event.] 

The impression here produced is as though a jerk were given to some 
delicate link connecting the two brothers. The brother suffering the crisis 
thinks vividly of the other; and one can of course explain the incident, as 
we did on its first publication, as the endangered man's projection of the 
scene upon his brother's mind. The passive dozing brother, on the other 
hand, feels as though he were suddenly present in the scene, — say in re- 
sponse to some sudden call from the brother in danger, — and I am here 
bringing into relief that aspect of the incident, on account of its analogy 
with cases soon to be quoted. But the main lesson no doubt may be that 
no hard and fast line can be drawn between the two explanations. 1 

And here I feel bound to introduce a sample of a certain class of dreams, 

— more interesting, perhaps, and certainly more perplexing than any; — ■ 
but belonging to a category of phenomena which at present I can make 
no attempt to explain. I mean precognitive dreams ; — pictures or visions 
in which future events are foretold or depicted, generally with more or less 
of symbolism, — and generally also in a mode so remote from the previsions 
of our earthly sagacity that we shall find ourselves driven, in a later dis- 
cussion, to speak in vague terms of glimpses into a cosmic picture-gallery; 

— or of scenic representations composed and offered to us by intelligences 
higher and more distant than any spirit whom we have known. I give 
in Appendix IV. C a thoroughly characteristic example ; — characteristic 
alike in its definiteness, its purposelessness, its isolated unintelligibility. 

Dr. Brace's narrative, which I next give in Appendix IV. D, written by 
an intelligent man, while the facts were yet fresh, seems to me of high 

1 The case of Mr. Boyle, investigated by Edmund Gurney and printed in 
S.P.R. Journal, vol. iii. pp. 265, 266 [§423], is interesting in this connection. In 
this case the vision, which recurred twice, was of a simple kind, and might be 
interpreted as an impression transferred from the mind of one waking to the mind 
of one asleep. 

Again, the single dream which a man has noted down in all his life stands 
evidentially in almost as good a position as a single waking hallucination. For 
cases of this kind see Journal S.P.R. , vol. iii. p. 267 [§424]; ibid. vol. v. p. 61 
[424 A]; ibid. vol. v. p. 252 [424 C]; and Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 443 
U24 B]. 


importance. If we accept the rest of his story, we must, I think, suppose 
that the sense of spiritual presence with which the incident began was 
more than a mere subjective fancy. Shall we refer it to the murdered 
man's wife; — with whom the dreamer seemed afterwards to be in tele- 
pathic relation ? Or shall we interpret it as a kind of summons from the 
dying man, drawing on, as it were, his friend's spirit to witness the actual 
murder and the subsequent scene? The fact that another friend, in 
another locality apparently, had a vision of similar nature, tells somewhat 
in favour of the supposition that the decedent's spirit was operative in 
both cases ; since we very seldom — if ever — find an agent producing an 
impression in two separate places at once — or nearly so — except at or 
just after the moment of death. 

In this view, the incident resembles a scene passing in a spiritual world. 
The dying man summons his brother-in-law; the brother-in-law visits the 
scene of murder, and there spiritually communicates with his sister, the 
widow, who is corporeally in that scene, and then sees further details of 
the scene after death, which he does not understand, and which are not 
explained to him. 

Fantastic though this explanation seems, it is not easy to hit on a sim- 
pler one which will cover the facts as stated. Could we accept it, we 
should have a kind of transition between two groups of cases, which 
although apparently so different may form parts of a continuous series. I 
mean the cases where the dreamer visits a distant scene, and the cases 
where another spirit visits the dreamer. 

Taking, then, Dr. Bruce's case to bridge the interval between these 
two groups, I go on to a case which properly belongs to the second, though 
it still has much in common with the first. I shall quote Mrs. Storie's nar- 
rative at full length in the text ; because the case is, in my judgment, both 
evidentially very strong, and also, in the naivete of its confusion, extremely 
suggestive of the way in which these psychical communications are made. 
Mrs. Storie, who is now dead, was, by the testimony of Edmund Gurney, 
Professor Sidgwick, and others, a witness eminently deserving of trust; 
and, besides a corroboration from her husband of the manifestation of a 
troubled dream, before the event was known, we have the actual notes 
written down by her, as she informed us, the day, or the day after, the 
news of the fatal accident arrived, solely for her own use, and unmistak- 
ably reflecting the incoherent impressiveness of the broken vision. These 
notes form the narrative given in Phantasms of the Living (vol. i. p. 370) 
which I reproduce here. The fact that the deceased brother was a twin 
of Mrs. Storie's adds interest to the case, since one clue (a vague one as 

SLEEP 109 

yet) to the causes directing and determining telepathic communications 
lies in what seems their exceptional frequency between twins; — the closest 
of all relations. 

Hobart Town, July 1874. 
On the evening of the 18th July, I felt unusually nervous. This 
seemed to begin [with the occurrence of a small domestic annoyance] 
about half past eight o'clock. When I went to my room I even felt as if 
some one was there. I fancied, as I stepped into bed, that some one 
in thought tried to stop me. At 2 o'clock I woke from the following dream. 
It seemed like in dissolving views. In a twinkle of light I saw a railway, 
and the puff of the engine. I thought, " What's going on up there ? Trav- 
elling ? I wonder if any of us are travelling and I dreaming of it." Some 
one unseen by me answered, "No; something quite different — some- 
thing wrong." "I don't like/to look at these things," I said. Then 
I saw behind and above my head William's upper half reclining, eyes and 
mouth half shut; his chest moved forward convulsively, and he raised his 
right arm. Then he bent forward, saying, "I suppose I should move 
out of this." Then I saw him lying, eyes shut, on the ground, flat. The 
chimney of an engine at his head. I called in excitement, "That will 
strike him!" The some one answered "Yes — well, here's what it was"; 
and immediately I saw William sitting in the open air — faint moonlight 
— on a raised place sideways. He raised his right arm, shuddered, and 
said, "I can't go on, or back, No" Then he seemed lying flat. I cried 
out, "Oh! Oh!" and others seemed to echo, "Oh! Oh!" He seemed 
then upon his elbow, saying, "Now it comes." Then as if struggling 
to rise, turned twice round quickly, saying, "Is it the train? the train, 
the train" his right shoulder reverberating as if struck from behind. He 
fell back like fainting; his eyes rolled. A large dark object came between 
us like panelling of wood, and rather in the dark something rolled over, 
and like an arm was thrown up, and the whole thing went away with 
a swish. Close beside me on the ground there seemed a long dark object. 
I called out, "They've left something behind; it's like a man." It then 
raised its shoulders and head, and fell down again. The same some 
one answered, " Yes, sadly." [? " Yes," sadly.] After a moment I 
seemed called on to look up, and said, "Is that thing not away yet?" 
Answered, "No." And in front, in light, there was a railway compart- 
ment in which sat Rev. Mr. Johnstone, of Echuca. I said, "What's 
he doing there?" Answered, "He's there." A railway porter went 

up to the window asking, "Have you seen any of ." I caught no 

more, but I thought he referred to the thing left behind. Mr. Johnstone 
seemed to answer "No"; and the man went quickly away — I thought 
to look for it. After all this the some one said close to me, "Now I'm 
going." I started, and at once saw 
( a tall dark figure at my head ) 

( William's back at my side. ) He put his right hand (in grief) over 
his face, and the other almost touching my shoulder, he crossed in front, 
looking stern and solemn. There was a flash from the eyes, and I caught 


a glimpse of a fine pale face like ushering him along, and indistinctly 
another. I felt frightened, and called out, "Is he angry?" "Oh, no." 
"Is he going away?" Answered, "Fes," by the same some one, and I 
woke with a loud sigh, which woke my husband, who said, "What is 
it?" I told him I had been dreaming "something unpleasant" — named 
a "railway," and dismissed it all from my mind as a dream. As I fell 
asleep again I fancied the some one said, "It's all gone," and another 
answered, "I'll come and remind her." 

The news reached me one week afterwards. The accident had 
happened to my brother on the same night about half past 9 o'clock. 
Rev. Mr. Johnstone and his wife were actually in the train which struck 
him. He was walking along the line which is raised two feet on a level 
country. He seemed to have gone 16 miles — must have been tired 
and sat down to take off his boot, which was beside him, dozed off and 
was very likely roused by the sound of the train; 76 sheep-trucks had 
passed without touching him, but some wooden projection, likely the step, 
had touched the right side of his head, bruised his right shoulder, 
and killed him instantaneously. The night was very dark. I believe 
now that the some one was (from something in the way he spoke) William 
himself. The face with him was white as alabaster and something 
like this [a small sketch pasted on] in profile. There were many other 
thoughts or words seemed to pass, but they are too many to write down 

The voice of the some one unseen seemed always above the figure 
of William which I saw. And when I was shown the compartment of 
the carriage with Mr. Johnstone, the some one seemed on a line between 
me and it — above me. 

[In an account-book of Mrs. Storie's, on a page headed July 1874, 
we find the 18th day marked, and the words, "Dear Willie died," and 
"Dreamed, dreamed of it all," appended. 

The first letter, from the Rev. J. C. Johnstone to the Rev. John Storie, 
announcing the news of the accident, is lost. The following are extracts 
from his second and third letters on the subject: — ] 

Echuca, 10th August 1874. 
The place where Hunter was killed is on an open plain, and there 
was consequently plenty of room for him to escape the train had he been 
conscious; but I think Meldrum's theory is the correct one, that he had 
sat down to adjust some bandages on his leg and had thoughtlessly gone 
off to sleep. There is only one line of rails, and the ground is raised 
about 2 feet — the ground on which the rails rest. He had probably 
sat down on the edge, and lain down backwards so as to be" within reach 
of some part of the train. It was not known at the time that an accident 
had occurred. Mrs. Johnstone and myself were in the train. Meldrum 
says he was not very much crushed. The top of the skull was struck 
off, and some ribs were broken under the armpit on one side. His body 
was found on the Sunday morning by a herd-boy from the adjoining 


August 2gth, 1874. 

The exact time at which the train struck poor Hunter must have been 
about 9.55 p.m., and his death must have been instantaneous. 

[The above corresponds with the account of the inquest in the 
Riverine Herald for July 22nd. The Melbourne Argus also describes 
the accident as having taken place on the night of Saturday, the 

The following remarks are taken from notes made by Professor Sidg- 
wick, during an interview with Mrs. Storie, in April 1884, and by Mrs. 
Sidgwick after another interview in September 1885 : — ] 

Mrs. Storie cannot regard the experience exactly as a dream, though 
she woke up from it. She is sure that it did not grow more definite in 
recollection afterwards. She never had a series of scenes in a dream 
at any other time; and she has never had anything like a hallucination. 
They were introduced by a voice in a whisper, not recognised as her 
brother's. He had sat on the bank as he appeared in the dream. The 
engine she saw behind him had a chimney of peculiar shape, such as 
she had not at that time seen; and she remembers that Mr. Storie thought 
her foolish about insisting on the chimney — unlike (he said) any which 
existed; but he informed her when he came back from Victoria, where 
her brother was, that engines of this kind had just been introduced there. 
She had no reason to think that any conversation between the porter 
and the clergyman actually occurred. The persons who seemed to lead 
her brother away were not recognised by her, and she only saw the face 
of one of them. 

Mr. Storie confirms his wife having said to him at the time of the dream, 
"What is that light?" Before writing the account first quoted, she had 
just mentioned the dream to her husband, but had not described it. She 
desired not to think of it, and also was unwilling to worry him about it 
because of his Sunday's work. This last point, it will be observed, is 
a confirmation of the fact that the dream took place on the Saturday 
night; and "it came out clearly" (Mrs. Sidgwick says) "that her recol- 
lection about the Saturday night was an independent recollection, and 
not read back after the accident was known." The strongly nervous 
state that preceded the dream was quite unique in Mrs. S.'s experience. 
But as it appeared* that, according to her recollection, it commenced at 
least an hour before the accident took place, it must be regarded as of 
no importance evidentially. The feeling of a presence in the room was 
also quite unique. 

"Here," says Gurney, "the difficulty of referring the true elements of 
the dream to the agent's mind [is very great]. For Mr. Hunter was asleep; 
and even if we can conceive that the image of the advancing engine may 
have had some place in his mind, the presence of Mr. Johnstone could 
not have been perceived by him. But it is possible, of course, to regard 
this last item of correspondence as accidental, even though the dream was 
telepathic. It will be observed that the dream followed the accident by 



about four hours; such deferment is, I think, a strong point in favour of 
telepathic, as opposed to independent, clairvoyance." 

I propose as an alternative explanation, — for reasons which I en- 
deavour to justify in later chapters, — that the deceased brother, aided by 
some other dimly discerned spirit, was endeavouring to present to Mrs. 
Storie a series of pictures representing his death — as realised after his 
death. I add this last clause, because one of the marked points in the 
dream was the presence in the train of Mr. Johnstone of Echuca — a fact 
which (as Gurney remarks) the dying man could not possibly know. 

I have dwelt on these two cases of Dr. Bruce and Mrs. Storie, because 
the reader will, I think, come to feel, as our evidence unrolls itself, that he 
has here complex experiences which are confirmed at various points by 
simpler experiences, in such a way as to make these stories seem a 
confused but an intimate transcript of what other narratives show in 
hints and glimpses alone. 

In Mrs. Storie's case the whole experience, as we have seen, presented 
itself as a dream; yet as a dream of quite unusual type, like a series of pic- 
tures presented to the sleeper who was still conscious that she was lying 
in bed. In other cases the "psychical invasion" of the spirit either of a 
living or of a deceased person seems to set up a variety of sleep-waking 
states — both in agent and percipient. In one bizarre narrative a man 
dreaming that he has returned home is heard in his home calling for hot 
water — and has himself a singular sense of "bilocation" between the 
railway carriage and his bedroom. 1 In another curious case is recorded 
a kind of encounter in dreamland, apparently more or less remembered 
by both persons. 2 

An invasion of this type coming upon a sleeping person is apt to induce 
some change in the sleeper's state, which, even if he regards it as a com- 
plete awakening, is generally shown not to be so in fact by the dreamlike 
character of his own recorded feelings and utterances. Gurney called 
these "Borderland Cases," and the whole collection in Phantasms of the 
Living will repay perusal. I introduce one such case in Appendix IV. E, 
as being at once very perplexing and, I think, very strongly attested. I 
knew Mr. and Mrs. T., who certainly were seriously anxious for complete 

1 Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 105 [428 A]. 

2 Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 154 [428 D]. 

The cases of Mrs. Manning (Journal S.P.R., vol. xii. p. 100 [428 B]) and Mr. 
Newnham (Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 225 [428 C]) are somewhat similar. 
See also Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 444 [428 E] and Journal S.P.R., vol. viii. 
p. 128 [428 F]. 

SLEEP 113 

accuracy, and who had (as the narrative shows) made a brief memorandum 
and consulted various persons on the incident at the time. 

These cases of invasion by the spirits of living persons pass on into 
cases of invasion by the dying, the impression being generally that of the 
presence of the visitant in the percipient's surroundings. 1 Sometimes the 
phantasm is seen as nearly as can be ascertained at the time of death. 
But there is no perceptible break in the series at this point. Some appear 
shortly after death, but before the death is known to the percipient. [See 
Appendix IV. F]. Finally, there are cases when the appearance takes 
place some time after death, but presents features unknown to the per- 
cipient. 2 

We have now briefly reviewed certain phenomena of sleep from a 
standpoint somewhat differing from that which is commonly taken. We 
have not (as is usual) fixed our attention primarily on the negative charac- 
teristics of sleep, or the extent to which it lacks the capacities of waking 
hours. On the contrary, we have regarded sleep as an independent phase 
of personality, existing with as good a right as the waking phase, and 
dowered with imperfectly expressed faculties of its own. In investigating 
those faculties we have been in no wise deterred by the fact of the apparent 
uselessness of some of them for our waking ends. Useless is a pre-scien- 
tific, even an anti-scientific term, which has perhaps proved a greater 
stumbling-block to research in psychology than in any other science. In 
science the use of phenomena is to prove laws, and the more bizarre and 
trivial the phenomena, the greater the chance of their directing us to some 
law which has been overlooked till now. In reviewing the phenomena of 
sleep, then, we found in the first place that it possesses a specific recuper- 
ative energy which the commonly accepted data of physiology and psy- 
chology cannot explain. We saw that in sleep there may be an increased 
co-ordination or centralisation of muscular control, and also an increased 
vividness of entencephalic perception, indicating a more intimate appre- 
ciation of intra-peripheral changes than is manifest in waking life. In 
accordance with this view, we found that the dreaming self may undergo 
sensory and emotional experiences apparently more intense than those 
of vigilance, and may produce thereby lasting effects upon the waking 
body and mind. Similarly again, we saw that that specific impress on 
body and mind which we - term memory may in sleeping or hypnotic states 
be both wider in range and fuller in content than the evocable memory of 
the waking day. Nay, not memory only, but power of inference, of 

1 Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 365; ibid., p. 453 [429 A and B]. 

2 See, for example, Journal S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 123 [429 F]. 


argument, may be thus intensified, as is shown by the solution in sleep of 
problems which have baffled waking effort. 

All these are fragmentary indications, — useless for practical purposes 
if you will, — of sleeping faculty exercised on the same order of things as 
waking faculty, and with comparable or even superior power. But we 
were bound to push our inquiry further still — we were bound to ask 
whether the self of sleep showed any faculty of a quite different order from 
that by which waking consciousness maintains the activity of man. We 
found that this was so indeed; that there was evidence that the sleeping 
spirit was susceptible of relations unfettered by spatial bonds; of telaes- 
thetic perception of distant scenes; of telepathic communication with 
distant persons, or even with spirits of whom we can predicate neither 
distance nor nearness, since they are released from the prison of the flesh. 

The inference which all this evidence suggests is entirely in accordance 
with the hypothesis on which my whole work is based. 

I have assumed that man is an organism informed or possessed by a 
soul. This view obviously involves the hypothesis that we are living a life 
in two worlds at once ; a planetary life in this material world, to which the 
organism is intended to react; and also a cosmic life in that spiritual or 
metetherial world, which is the native environment of the soul. From 
that unseen world the energy of the organism needs to be perpetually 
replenished. That replenishment we cannot understand: we may figure 
it to ourselves as a protoplasmic process; — as some relation between 
protoplasm, ether, and whatever is beyond ether, on which it is at present 
useless to speculate. 

Admitting, for the sake of argument, these vast assumptions, it will be 
easy to draw the further inference that it may be needful that the soul's 
attention should be frequently withdrawn from the business of earthly life, 
so as to pursue with greater intensity what we may call its protoplasmic 
task, — the maintenance of the fundamental, pervading connection 
between the organism and the spiritual world. Nay, this profounder 
condition, as responding to more primitive, more fundamental needs, will 
itself be more primitive than the waking state. And this is so: sleep is 
the infant's dominant phase: the pre-natal state resembles sleep rather 
than waking; and so does the whole life-condition of our lowly ancestors. 
And as the sleeping state is the more primitive, so also is it the more gen- 
eralised, and the more plastic. Out of this dreamy abeyance between two 
worlds, the needs of the material world are constantly developing some 
form of alert activity, some faculty which was potential only until search 
for food and the defence against enemies compelled a closer heed to "the 

SLEEP 115 

life of relation," lest the relation should become only that of victim to 

We shall thus have two phases of personality developing into separate 
purposes and in separate directions from a parent stem. The waking 
personality will develop external sense organs and will fit itself progressively 
for the life of relation to the external world. It will endeavour to attain 
an ever completer control over the resources of the personality, and it will 
culminate in what we term genius when it has unified the subliminal as 
far as possible with the supraliminal in its pursuit of deliberate waking ends. 

The sleeping personality will develop in ways less easy to foresee. 
What, on any theory, will it aim at, beyond the familiar intensification of 
recuperative power? We can only guess, on my theory, that its develop- 
ment will show some increasing trace of the soul's less exclusive absorption 
in the activity of the organism. The soul has withdrawn from the special- 
ised material surface of things (to use such poor metaphor as we can) into 
a realm where the nature of the connection between matter and spirit — 
whether through the intermediacy of the ether or otherwise — is more pro- 
foundly discerned. That same withdrawal from the surface which, while it 
diminishes power over complex muscular processes, increases power over 
profound organic processes, may at the same time increase the soul's power 
of operating in that spiritual world to which sleep has drawn it nearer. 

On this view of sleep, be it observed, there will be nothing to surprise 
us in the possibility of increasing the proportion of the sleeping to the 
waking phase of life by hypnotic suggestion. All we can say is that, while 
the soul must insist on at least the minimum quantity of sleep needful to 
keep the body alive, we can see no superior limit to the quantity of sleep 
which it may choose to take, — the quantity of attention, that is, which 
it may choose to give to the special operations of sleep as compared with 
those of waking life. 

At this point we must for the present pause. The suggested hypothesis 
will indeed cover the actual facts as to sleep adduced in this chapter. But 
it covers them by virtue of assumptions too vast to be accepted without 
further confirmation. It must necessarily be our duty in later chapters to 
trace the development of the sleeping personality in both the directions indi- 
cated above ; — in the direction of organic recuperation through the hypnotic 
trance, and in the direction of the soul's independent operation through that 
form of trance which leads to possession and to ecstasy. We shall begin at 
once in the next chapter to trace out that great experimental modification 
of sleep, from which, under the names of mesmerism or of hypnotism, 
results of such conspicuous practical value have already been won. 


cJfXero d£ pdftdov, t% t' dvdpwv d/x/xara 0£\yei, 
&v idtXei, roi/s 5' afire /cat vrvdovras tyelpei. 

— Homer. 

In the last chapter we were led on to adopt a conception of sleep which, 
whether or not it prove ultimately in any form acceptable by science, 
is at any rate in deep congruity with the evidence brought forward in this 
work. Our human life, in this view, exists and energises, at the present 
moment, both in the material and in the spiritual world. Human per- 
sonality, as it has developed from lowly ancestors, has become differen- 
tiated into two phases; one of them mainly adapted to material or planetary, 
the other to spiritual or cosmic operation. The subliminal self, mainly 
directing the sleeping phase, is able either to rejuvenate the organism 
by energy drawn in from the spiritual world; — or, on the other hand, 
temporarily and partially to relax its connection with that organism, 
in order to expatiate in the exercise of supernormal powers; — telepathy, 
telesthaesia, ecstasy. 

Such were the suggestions of the evidence as to dream and vision; such, 
I may add, will be seen to be the suggestions of spontaneous somnambulism, 
which has not yet fallen under our discussion. Yet claims so large as these 
demand corroboration from observation and experiment along many 
different lines of approach. Some such corroboration we have, in antici- 
patory fashion, already acquired. Discussing in Chapter II. the various 
forms of disintegration of personality, we had frequent glimpses of benefi- 
cent subliminal powers. We saw the deepest stratum of the self inter- 
vening from time to time with a therapeutic object, or we caught it in the 
act of exercising, even if aimlessly or sporadically, some faculty beyond 
supraliminal reach. And we observed, moreover, that the agency by 
which these subliminal powers were invoked was generally the hypnotic 
trance. Of the nature of that trance I then said nothing; it was manifest 
only that here was some kind of induced or artificial somnambulism, which 



seemed to systematise that beneficial control of the organism which spon- 
taneous sleep-waking states had exercised in a fitful way. It must plainly 
be our business to understand ab initio these hypnotic phenomena; to push 
as far as may be what seems like an experimental evolution of the sleeping 
phase of personality. 

Let us suppose, then, that we are standing at our present point, but 
with no more knowledge of hypnotic phenomena than existed in the boy- 
hood of Mesmer. We shall know well enough what, as experimental 
psychologists, we desire to do; but we shall have little notion of how to 
set about it. We desire to summon at our will, and to subdue to our use, 
these rarely emergent sleep-waking faculties. On their physical side, 
we desire to develop their inhibition of pain and their reinforcement of 
energy; on their intellectual side, their concentration of attention; on their 
emotional side, their sense of freedom, expansion, joy. Above all, we 
desire to get hold of those supernormal faculties — telepathy and telaes- 
thesia — of which we have caught fitful glimpses in somnambulism and 
in dream. 

Yet to such hopes as these the so-called " experience of ages" (generally 
a very short and scrappy induction!) will seem altogether to refuse any 
practical outcome. History, indeed, — with the wonted vagueness of 
history, — will offer us a long series of stories of the strange sanative sug- 
gestion or influence of man on man; — beginning, say, with David and 
Saul, or with David and Abishag, and ending with Valentine Greatrakes, 
— or with the Stuarts' last touch for the King's evil. But in knowledge 
of how actually to set about it, we should still be just on the level of the 
Seven Sages. 1 

And now let the reader note this lesson on the unexhausted possibilities 
of human organisms and human life. Let him take his stand at one of 
the modern centres of hypnotic practice, — in Professor Bernheim's hos- 
pital-ward, or Dr. van Renterghem's clinique; let him see the hundreds 
of patients thrown daily into hypnotic trance, in a few moments, and as a 
matter of course; and let him then remember that this process, which now 
seems as obvious and easy as giving a pill, was absolutely unknown not 
only to Galen and to Celsus, but to Hunter and to Harvey; and when at 
last discovered was commonly denounced as a fraudulent fiction, almost 
up to the present day. Nay, if one chances to have watched as a boy 
some cure effected in Dr. Elliotson's Mesmeric Hospital, before neglect 

1 Long ago Solon had said, apparently of mesmeric cure — 
Tbv Si KaKcus voicroiai. KVKdi^evov &pyd\£ats re 


and calumny had closed that too early effort for human good; — if one 
has seen popular indifference and professional prejudice check the new 
healing art for a generation; — is not one likely to have imbibed a deep 
distrust of all a priori negations in the matter of human faculty; — of all 
obiter dicta of eminent men on subjects with which they do not happen to 
be acquainted? Would not one, after such an experience, rather choose 
(with Darwin) "the fool's experiment" than any immemorial ignorance 
which has stiffened into an unreasoning incredulity? 

Mesmer's experiment was almost a " fool's experiment," and Mesmer 
himself was almost a charlatan. Yet Mesmer and his successors, — work- 
ing from many different points of view, and following many divergent 
theories, — have opened an ever- widening way, and have brought us now 
to a position where we can fairly hope, by experiments made no longer at 
random, to reproduce and systematise most of those phenomena of spon- 
taneous somnambulism which once seemed to lie so tantalisingly beyond 
our grasp. 

That promise is great indeed; yet it is well to begin by consider- 
ing precisely how far it extends. We must not suppose that we shall 
at once be subduing to our experiment a central, integrated, reasonable 

We must be content (at first at any rate) if we can affect the personality 
in the same limited way as hysteria and somnambulism have affected it; 
but yet can act deliberately and usefully where these have acted hurtfully 
and at random. It is enough to hope that we may inhibit pain, as it is 
inhibited for the hysteric ; or concentrate attention, as it is concentrated for 
the somnambulist; or change the tastes and passions, as these are changed 
in alternating personalities; or (best of all) recover and fix something of 
that supernormal faculty of which we have caught fugitive glimpses in 
vision and dream. Our proof of the origination of any phenomenon in 
the deeper strata of our being must lie in the intrinsic nature of the faculty 
exhibited; — not in the wisdom of its actual direction. That must often 
depend on the order given from above the threshold; just as the magic mill 
of the fable continues magical, although, for lack of the proper formula to 
stop it, it be still grinding out superfluous salt at the bottom of the sea. 

This brief introduction will, I hope, show that hypnotism is no dis- 
connected or extraneous insertion into experimental psychology, but rather 
a summary name for a group of necessary, though empirical and isolated, 
attempts to bring under control that range of submerged faculty which 
has already from time to time risen into our observation. The inquiry 
has been mainly the work of a few distinguished men, who have each 


of them pushed some useful ideas as far as they could, but whose work 
has not been adequately supported by successors. 

I should much doubt whether there have been a hundred men in all 
countries together, at the ordinary level of professional intelligence, who 
during the century since Mesmer have treated hypnotism as the serious 
study of their lives. Some few of the men who have so treated it have 
been men of great force and strong convictions; and it will be found that 
there has consequently been a series of sudden developments of groups of 
phenomena, differing much from each other, but corresponding with the 
special beliefs and desires of the person who headed each movement in 
turn. I will mention some of the chief examples, so as to show the sporadic 
nature of the efforts made, and the great variety of the phenomena elicited. 

The first name that must be mentioned is, of course, that of Mes- 
mer himself. He believed primarily in a sanative effluence, and his 
method seems to have been a combination of passes, suggestion, and a 
supposed ' ' metallotherapy " or " magneto-therapy " — the celebrated 
baquet — which no doubt was merely a form of suggestion. His results, 
though very imperfectly described, seem to have been peculiar to himself. 
The crise* which many of his patients underwent sounds like a hysterical 
attack; but there can be no doubt that rapid improvement in symptoms 
often followed it, or he would not have made so great an impression on 
savants as well as on the fashionable world of Paris. To Mesmer, then, 
we owe the first conception of the therapeutic power of a sudden and pro- 
found nervous change. To Mesmer, still more markedly, we owe the 
doctrine of a nervous influence or effluence passing from man to man, — a 
doctrine which, though it must assume a less exclusive importance than 
he assigned to it, cannot, in my view, be altogether ignored or denied. 

The leading figure among his immediate successors, the Marquis de 
Puysegur, seems from his writings 1 to have been one of the ablest and most 
candid men who have practised mesmerism; and he was one of the very 
few who have conducted experiments, other than therapeutic, on a large 
scale. The somnambulic state may also be said to have been his discovery; 
and he obtained clairvoyance or telaesthesia in so many instances, and 
recorded them with so much of detail, that it is hard to attribute all to mal- 
observation, or even to telepathy from persons present. Other observers, 
as Bertrand, a physician of great promise, followed in the same track, and 
this brief period was perhaps the most fertile in disinterested experiments 

1 Recherches Physiologiques sur V Homme (Paris, 181 1); Memoires pour servir a. 
VHistoire et a V Establissement du Magnetisme Animal; Du Magnetisme Animal con- 
sider e dans ses Rapports avec diver ses branches de la Physique Generale; etc. 


that our subject has yet known. Much was then done in Germany also; 
and there, too, there is scattered testimony to supernormal powers. 1 

Next came the era of Elliotson in England, and of Esdaile in his hos- 
pital at Calcutta. Their method lay in mesmeric passes, Elliotson's object 
being mostly the direct cure of maladies, Esdaile's a deep anaesthesia, 
under which he performed hundreds of serious operations. His success 
in this direction was absolutely unique; — was certainly (setting aside 
supernormal phenomena) the most extraordinary performance in mes- 
meric history. Had not his achievements been matters of official record, 
the apparent impossibility of repeating them would probably by this time 
have been held to have disproved them altogether. 

The next great step which hypnotism made was actually regarded by 
Elliotson and his group as a hostile demonstration. When Braid dis- 
covered that hypnosis could be induced without passes, the mesmerists 
felt that their theory of a sanative effluence was dangerously attacked. 
And this was true; for that theory has in fact been thrown into the shade, 
— too completely so, in my opinion, — first by the method used in Braid's 
earlier work of the production of hypnotic phenomena by means of the 
upward and inward squint, and secondly, by the much wider and more 
important discovery of the efficacy of mere suggestion, set forth in his later 
writings. Braid's hypnotic experience differed much from that of hyp- 
notists before and after him. His early method of the convergent squint 
produced results which no one else has been able to produce ; and the state 
which it induced appeared in his view to arrest and dissipate even maladies 
of which neither hypnotist nor patient had thought as capable of cure. 
But he afterwards abandoned this method in favour of simple verbal sug- 
gestion, as he found that what was required was merely to influence the 
ideas of his patients. He showed further that all so-called phrenological 
phenomena and the supposed effects of magnets, metals, etc., could be 
produced equally well by suggestion. 2 He also laid stress on the subject's 
power both of resisting the commands of the operator and of inducing 
hypnotic effects in himself without the aid of an operator. To my mind 
the most important novelty brought out by Braid was the possibility of 
self-hypnotisation by concentration of will. This inlet into human faculty, 

1 See Nasse's Zeitschrift fiir Hypnotismus, passim. 

2 This later work of Braid's has been generally overlooked, and his theories were 
stated again as new discoveries by recent observers who ignored what he had already 
accomplished. See Dr. Bramwell's paper on " James Braid, his Work and Writings," 
in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. pp. 127-166. This contains a complete list of Braid's 
writings, and references to his work by other writers. See also the references to Braid's 
work and theories in Dr. Bramwell's Hypnotism. 


in some ways the most important of all, has been as yet but slackly followed. 
But it is along with Braid's group of ideas that I should place those of an 
able but much inferior investigator, Dr. Fahnestock, although it is not 
clear that the latter knew of Braid's work. His book, Statuvolism, or 
Artificial Somnambulism (Chicago, 1871), has received less attention than 
it merits ; — partly perhaps from its barbarous title, partly from the cru- 
dities with which it is encumbered, and partly from the fact of its publication 
at what was at that date a town on the outskirts of civilisation. Fahnestock 
seems to have obtained by self-suggestion with healthy persons results in 
some ways surpassing anything since recorded. 

There is no reason to doubt these results, except the fact that they have 
not yet been repeated with equal success; and my present purpose is to 
show how little importance can as yet be attached in the history of hypnotic 
experiment to the mere absence thus far of successful repetition. 

The next great stage was again strikingly different. It was mainly 
French; the impulse was given largely by Professor Charles Richet, whose 
work has proved singularly free from narrowness or misconception; but 
the movement was developed in a special and a very unfortunate direction 
by Charcot and his school. It is a remarkable fact that although Charcot 
was perhaps the only man of eminence whose professional reputation has 
ever been raised by his dealings with hypnotism, most of his work thereon 
is now seen to have been mistaken and aberrant, — a mere following of a 
blind alley, from which his disciples are now gradually returning. Char- 
cot's leading phenomena (as with several of his predecessors above men- 
tioned) were of a type which has seldom since been obtained. The once 
celebrated "three stages" of the grand hypnotisme are hardly anywhere 
now to be seen. But in this case the reason is not that other hypnotists 
could not obtain the phenomena if they would; it is rather (as I have already 
indicated) that experience has convinced them that the sequences and 
symptoms on which Charcot laid stress were merely very elaborate pro- 
ducts of the long-continued, and, so to say, endemic suggestions of the 

We come next to the movement which is now on the whole dominant, 
and to which the greatest number of cures may at present be credited. 
The school of Nancy — which originated with Lie*beault, and which is 
now gradually merging into a general consensus of hypnotic practice — 
threw aside more and more decisively the supposed "somatic signs" of 
Charcot, — the phenomena of neuro-muscular irritability and the like, 
which he regarded as the requisite proof of hypnosis; — until Bernheim 
boldly affirmed that hypnotic trance was no more than sleep, and that 


hypnotic suggestion was at once the sole cause of hypnotic responsiveness 
and yet was undifferentiated from mere ordinary advisory speech. This 
was unfortunately too good to be true. Not one sleep in a million is really 
hypnosis; not one suggestion in a million reaches or influences the sub- 
liminal self. If Bernheim's theories, in their extreme form, were true, 
there would by this time have been no sufferers left to heal. 

What Bernheim has done is to cure a number of people without mes- 
meric passes, and without any special predisposing belief on either side, — ■ 
beyond a trust in his own power. And this is a most valuable achievement, 
especially as showing how much may be dispensed with in hypnotic 
practice — to how simple elements it may be reduced. 

" Hypnotic trance," says Bernheim, in effect, "is ordinary sleep; hyp- 
notic suggestion is ordinary command. You tell the patient to go to 
sleep, and he goes to sleep; you tell him to get well, and he gets well im- 
mediately." Even thus (one thinks) has one heard the conjuror explain- 
ing "how it's done," — with little resulting hope of emulating his brilliant 
performance. An ordinary command does not enable an ordinary man to 
get rid of his rheumatism, or to detest the previously too acceptable taste 
of brandy. In suggestion, in short, there must needs be something more 
than a name; a profound nervous change must needs be started by some 
powerful nervous stimulus from without or from within. Before content- 
ing ourselves with Bernheim's formula, we must consider yet again what 
change we want to effect, and whether hypnotists have actually used any 
form of stimulus which was likely to effect it. 

According to Bernheim we are all naturally suggestible, and what we 
want to effect through suggestion is increased suggestibility. But let us 
get rid for the moment of that oracular word. What it seems to mean here 
is mainly a readier obedience of the organism to what we wish it to do. 
The sleep or trance with which hypnotism is popularly identified is not 
essential to our object, for the subliminal modifications are sometimes 
attained without any trace of somnolence. Let us consider, then, whether 
any known nervous stimuli, either massive or specialised, tend to induce 

— not mere sleep or catalepsy — but that kind of ready modifiability, — 
of responsiveness both in visible gesture and in invisible nutritive processes, 

— for the sake of which hypnosis is in serious practice induced. 

Now of the external stimuli which influence the whole nervous system 
the most conspicuous are narcotic drugs. Opium, alcohol, chloroform, 
cannabis indica, etc., affect the nerves in so many strange ways that one 
might hope that they would be of use as hypnotic agents. And some 
observers have found that slight chloroformisation rendered subjects more 


suggestible. Janet has cited one case where suggestibility was developed 
during recovery from delirium tremens. Other hypnotisers (as Bram- 
well) have found chloroform fail to render patients hypnotisable ; and 
alcohol is generally regarded as a positive hindrance to hypnotic suscep- 
tibility. More experiment with various narcotics is much needed; but 
thus far the scantiness of proof that narcotics help towards hypnosis goes 
rather against the view that hypnosis is a direct physiological sequence 
from any form of external stimulus. 

The apparent resemblance, indeed, between narcosis and hypnosis 
diminishes on a closer analysis. A stage may occur both in narcotised 
and in hypnotised subjects where there is incoherent, dream-like menta- 
tion; but in the narcotised subject this is a step towards inhibition of the 
whole nervous energy — the highest centres being paralysed first; whereas 
in hypnosis the inhibition of supraliminal faculty seems often at least to 
be merely a necessary preliminary to the liberation of fresh faculty which 
presently manifests itself from a profounder region of the self. 

Next take another group of massive effects produced on the nervous sys- 
tem by external stimuli ; — those forms, namely, of trance and cataplexy which 
are due to sudden shock. With human beings this phenomenon varies from 
actual death from failure of heart-action, or paralysis, or stupor attonitus (a 
recognised form of insanity), any of which may result from a mere alarm- 
ing sight or unwelcome announcement, down to the cataleptic immobility 
of a Salpetriere patient, when she hears a sudden stroke on the gong. 

Similar phenomena in certain animals, as frogs, beetles, etc., are well 
known. It is doubtful, however, whether any of these sudden disable- 
ments should be classed as true hypnoses. It has not, I think, been shown 
that in any case they have induced any real responsiveness to control, or 
power of obeying suggestion; unless it be (as in some Salpetriere cases) 
a form of suggestion so obvious and habitual that the obedience thereto 
may be called part of the actual cataplexy itself. Thus the " wax-like 
flexibility" of the cataleptic, whose arms remain in the position where you 
place them, must not be regarded as a readier obedience to control, but 
rather as a state which involves not a more but a less alert and capable 
responsiveness of the organism to either external or internal stimuli. 

So with regard to animals — crocodiles, frogs, and the like. I hold 
theoretically that animals are probably hypnotisable and suggestible; and 
the records of Rarey's horse-taming, etc., seem to point in that direction. 1 

1 See also the Zoist (Vol. viii. pp. 156, 297-299) for cases of mesmerisation of 
animals. In his Therapeutique Suggestive f 189 1 (pp. 246-68), Dr. Li£beault gives 
an account of his experiments with infants [513 B and C], 


But in the commoner experiments with frogs, where mere passivity is pro- 
duced, the resemblance seems to extend only to the lethargic stage in human 
beings, 1 and what relation that lethargy bears to suggestibility is not, I 
think, really known; although I shall later on suggest some explanation 
on psychological grounds. 

It seems plain, at any rate, that it must be from stimuli applied to men 
and not to animals, and from stimuli of a special and localised rather than 
of a massive kind, that we shall have to learn whatever can be learnt as to 
the genesis of the true hypnotic control. 

Now there exists a way of inducing hypnosis in some hysterical persons 
which seems intermediate between massive and localised stimulations. 
It is indeed a local stimulation; but there seems no reason beyond some 
deep-seated caprice of the organism why the special tract which is thus 
sensitive should have become developed in that direction. 

I speak of the induction of trance in certain subjects by pressure upon 
so-called hypnogenous zones. These zones form a curious development of 
hysterical diniques. Their starting-point is the well-known phenomenon 
of patches of anaesthesia found upon hysterical subjects — the " witch- 
marks" of our ancestors. 

So far as we at present know, the situation of these "marks" is alto- 
gether capricious. It does not apparently depend, that is to say, upon 
any central lesion, in the same way as do the "referred pains," familiar 
in deep-seated organic complaints, which manifest themselves by super- 
ficial patches of tenderness, explicable by the distribution of nerve-trunks. 
The anaesthetic patches are an example of what I have called the irrational 
self-suggestions of the hypnotic stratum; — determined by dream-like 
fancies rather than necessitated by purely physiological antecedents. 

Quite in accordance with this view, we find that under favourable con- 
ditions — especially in a hospital of hysterics — these anomalous patches 
or zones develop and specialise themselves in various ways. Under Dr. 
Pitres at Bordeaux (for example), we have zones hysterogenes, zones hypno- 
genes, zones hypnojrenatrices, etc. ; that is to say, he finds that pressure on 
certain spots in certain subjects will bring on or will check hysterical ac- 
cesses, or accesses of what is ranked as hypnotic sleep. There is no doubt 
that this sleep does in certain subjects follow instantly upon the pressure 
of certain spots, — constant for each subject, but different for one subject 
and for another; — and this without any conscious co-operation, or even 
foreknowledge, on the patient's part. Stated thus nakedly, this seems 

1 See Dr. Bramwell's discussion of the subject. {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. 
P- 213) [Si3 A]. 


the strongest possible instance of the induction of hypnosis by localised 
stimulus. The reader, however, will at once understand that in my view 
there is here no simple physiological sequence of cause and effect. I must 
regard the local pressure as a mere signal — an appeal to the pre-formed 
capacities of lawlessly acting centres in the hypnotic stratum. A scrap 
of the self has decided, in dreamlike fashion, that pressure on a certain 
point of the body's surface shall produce sleep ; — just as it has decided 
that pressure on that same point or on some other point shall not produce 
pain. Self-suggestion, and no mere physiological nexus, is responsible 
for the sleep or the hysterical access which follows the touch. The anaes- 
thetic patches are here a direct, but a capriciously chosen avenue to the 
subliminal being, and the same random self-suggestiveness which is re- 
sponsible for frequent determinations that hysterical subjects shall not 
be hypnotised has in this case decided that they shall be hypnotised, if 
you go about it in exactly the right way. 

Next in order among forms of localised stimulus used for inducing 
hypnosis may be placed monotonous stimulation, — to whatever part 
of the body it be applied. It was at one time the fashion to attribute 
almost all hypnotic phenomena to this cause, and Edmund Gurney and I 
endeavoured to point out the exaggeration. 1 Of this presently; but first 
let us consider the few cases where the monotonous stimulation has un- 
doubtedly been of a kind to affect the organism strongly. The late Dr. 
Auguste Voisin, of Paris, was perhaps more markedly successful than 
any physician in producing hypnosis in extreme cases; — in maniacal 
persons especially, whose attention it seemed impossible to fix. He often 
accomplished this by holding their eyes open with the blepharostat, and 
compelling them to gaze, sometimes for hours together, at a brilliant elec- 
tric light. Exhaustion produces tranquillity and an almost comatose sleep 
— in which the physician has often managed to give suggestions of great 
value. This seems practically the only class of cases where a directly physio- 
logical antecedent for the sleep can be proved; and even here the provable 
effect is rather the exhaustion of morbid excitability than any direct induc- 
tion of suggestibility. This dazzling process is generally accompanied 
with vigorous verbal suggestion; and it is, of course, quite possible that the 
patients might have been thrown into hypnosis by that suggestion alone, 
had their minds been capable at first of sufficient attention to receive it. 

Braid's upward and inward squint has an effect of the same deadening 
kind as the long gazing at a light, and helps in controlling wandering 

1 This view unfortunately dominates Professor M'Kendrick's article on "Hyp- 
notism" in the Encyclopedia Britannica. 


attention; but Braid himself in later years (as mentioned above) attributed 
his hypnotic successes wholly to suggestion. 

From monotonous excitations which, whatever their part in inducing 
hypnosis, are, at any rate, such as can sensibly affect the organism, I come 
down to the trivial monotonies of watch-tickings, "passes," etc., which 
are still by a certain school regarded as capable of producing a profound 
change in the nervous condition of the person before whose face the hyp- 
notiser's hands are slowly waved for ten or twenty minutes. I regard 
this as a much exaggerated view. The clock's ticking, for instance, if it 
is marked at all, is at least as likely to irritate as to soothe; and the con- 
stant experience of life shows that continued monotonous stimuli, say the 
throbbing of the screw at sea, soon escape notice and produce no hypnotic 
effect at all. It is true, indeed, that monotonous rocking sends some babies 
to sleep; but other babies are merely irritated by the process, and such 
soporific effect as rocking may possess is probably an effect on spinal centres 
or on the semicircular canals. It depends less on mere monotony than 
on massive movement of the whole organism. 

I think, then, that there is no real ground for supposing that the trivial 
degree of monotonous stimulation produced by passes often repeated 
can induce in any ordinary physiological manner that "profound nervous 
change" which is recognised as the prerequisite condition of any hypnotic 
results. I think that passes are effectual generally as mere suggestions, 
and must prima facie be regarded in that light, as they are, in fact, re- 
garded by many experienced hypnotisers (as Milne Bramwell) who have 
employed them with good effect. Afterwards, when reason is given for 
believing in a telepathic influence or impact occasionally transmitted from 
the operator to the subject at a distance, we shall consider whether passes 
may represent some other form of the same influence, operating in close 
physical contiguity. 

First, however, let us consider the point which we have now reached. 
We have successively dismissed various supposed modes of physiologically 
inducing hypnotic trance. We stand at present in the position of the 
Nancy school; — we have found nothing but suggestion which really 
induces the phenomena. 

But on the^other hand we cannot possibly regard the word suggestion 
as any real answer to the important question how the hypnotic responsive- 
ness is induced, on what conditions it depends. 1 

1 See Dr. Bramwell's discussion of the inadequacy of this explanation in his article 
"What is Hypnotism?" in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. p. 224, also in his book on 
Hypnotism pp. 337-8. 


It must be remembered that many of the results which follow upon 
suggestion are of. a type which no amount of willingness to follow the 
suggestion could induce, since they lie quite outside the voluntary realm. 
However disposed a man may be to believe me, however anxious to please 
me, one does not see how that should enable him, for instance, to govern 
the morbidly-secreting cells in an eruption of erysipelas. He already 
fruitlessly wishes them to stop their inflammation; the mere fact of my 
expressing the same wish can hardly alter his cellular tissue. 

Here, then, we come to an important conclusion which cannot well 
be denied, yet is seldom looked fully in the face. Suggestion from without 
must for the most part resolve itself into suggestion from within. Unless 
there be some telepathic or other supernormal influence at work between 
hypnotiser and patient (which I shall presently show ground for believing 
to be sometimes, though not often, the case), the hypnotiser can plainly 
do nothing by his word of command beyond starting a train of thought 
which the patient has in most cases started many times for himself with 
no result; the difference being that now at last the patient starts it again, 
and it has a result. But why it thus succeeds on this particular occasion, 
we simply do not know. We cannot predict when the result will occur; 
still less can we bring it about at pleasure. 

Nay, we do not even know whether it might not be possible to dispense 
altogether with suggestion from outside in most of the cases now treated 
in this way, and merely to teach the patient to make the suggestions for 
himself. If there be no " mesmeric effluence" passing from hypnotiser 
to patient, the hypnotiser seems little more than a mere objet de luxe; — 
a personage provided simply to impress the imagination, who must needs 
become even absurdly useless so soon as it is understood that he has no 
other function or power. 

Self-suggestion, whatever this may really mean, is 'thus in most cases, 
whether avowedly or not, at the bottom of the effect produced. It has 
already been used most successfully, and it will probably become much 
commoner than it now is ; — or, I should rather say (since every one no 
doubt suggests to himself when he is in pain that he would like the pain 
to cease), I anticipate that self-suggestion, by being in some way better 
directed, will become more effective, and that the average of voluntary 
power over the organism will rise to a far higher level than it at present 
reaches. I believe that this is taking place even now; and that certain 
schemes of self-suggestion, so to call them, are coming into vogue, where 
patients in large masses are supplied with effective conceptions, which 
they thus impress repeatedly upon themselves without the need of a 


hypnotiser's attendance on each occasion. The " Miracles of Lourdes" 
and the cures effected by "Christian Science" fall, in my view, under 
this category. We have here suggestions given to a quantity of more 
or less suitable people en masse, much as a platform hypnotiser gives sug- 
gestions to a mixed audience, some of whom may then be affected without 
individual attention from himself. The suggestion of the curative power 
of the Lourdes water, for instance, is thus thrown out, partly in books, 
partly by oral addresses; and a certain percentage of persons succeed in 
so persuading themselves of that curative efficacy that when they bathe 
in the water they are actually cured. 

These schemes oj self-suggestion, as I have termed them, constitute 
one of the most interesting parts of my subject, but space forbids that I 
should enter into a discussion of them here. It is sufficient to point out 
that in order to make self-suggestion operative, no strong belief or enthu- 
siasm, such as those schemes imply, is really necessary. No recorded 
cases of self-suggestion, I think, are more instructive than those published 
by Dr. Hugh Wingfield in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 279. (The paper 
was printed anonymously.) Dr. Wingfield was a Demonstrator in Phys- 
iology in the University of Cambridge, and his subjects were mainly 
candidates for the Natural Sciences Tripos. In these cases there was 
no excitement of any kind, and no previous belief. The phenomena 
occurred incidentally during a series of experiments on other points, and 
were a surprise to every one concerned. The results achieved were partly 
automatic writing and partly phenomena of neuro-muscular excitability; 

— stiffening of the arms, and so forth. "It seems probable," says Dr. 
Wingfield, "that all phenomena capable of being produced by the sug- 
gestion of the hypnotiser can also be produced by self-suggestion in a 
self -suggestive subject." 

Experiments like these — confirming with modern care the conclusions 
reached by Fahnestock and others at various points in hypnotic history 

— seem to me to open a new inlet into human faculty, as surprising in 
its way as those first wild experiments of Mesmer himself. Who would 
have supposed that a healthy undergraduate could "by an effort of mind" 
throw his whole body into a state of cataleptic rigidity, so that he could 
rest with his heels on one chair and his head on another? or that other 
healthy young men could "close their own eyes so that they were unable 
to open them," and the like? The trivial character of these laboratory 
experiments makes them physiologically the more remarkable. There 
is the very minimum of predisposing conditions, of excited expectation, 
or of external motive prompting to extraordinary effort. And the results 


are not subjective merely — relief of pain and so on — but are definite 
neuro-muscular changes, capable (as in the case of the head and heels on 
separate chairs) of unmistakable test. 

Yet, important though these and similar experiments in self-suggestion 
may be, they do not solve our problem as to the ultimate origin and dis- 
tribution of the faculty thus displayed. We know no better with self-sug- 
gestion than with suggestion from outside why it is that one man succeeds 
where others fail, or why a man who succeeds once fails in his next attempt. 
Within the ordinary range of physiolgical explanations nothing (I repeat) 
has as yet been discovered which can guide us to the true nature or 
exciting causes of this characteristic responsiveness of hypnosis. If we 
are to find any light, it must be in some direction which has as yet been 
little explored. 

The hint which I have to offer here involves, I hope, something more 
than a mere change of appellation. I define suggestion as "successful 
appeal to the subliminal self"; — not necessarily to that self in its most 
central, most unitary aspect; but to some one at least of those strata of 
subliminal faculty which I have in an earlier chapter described. I do 
not indeed pretend that my explanation can enable us to reduce hyp- 
notic success to a certainty. I cannot say why the process should be 
so irregular and capricious; but I can show that this puzzle is part 
and parcel of a wider mystery; — of the obscure relationships and inter- 
dependencies of the supraliminal and the subliminal self. In split per- 
sonalities, in genius, in dreams, in sensory and motor automatisms, we 
find the same fitfulness, the same apparent caprice. 

Leaving perforce this problem for the present unsolved, let us consider 
the various ways in which this conception of subliminal operation may 
throw light on the actual phenomena of hypnotism; — phenomena at 
present scattered in bewildering confusion. 

The word hypnotism itself implies that some kind of sleep or trance 
is regarded as its leading characteristic. And although so-called hypnotic 
suggestions do often take effect in the waking state, 1 our usual test of 
the hypnotiser's success lies in the slumber — light or deep — into which 
his subject is thrown. It is, indeed, a slumber which admits at times 
of strange wakings and activities; but it is also manifestly profounder 
than the sleep which we habitually enjoy. 

If sleep, then, be the phase of personality specially consecrated to sub- 
liminal operation, it follows that any successful appeal to the subliminal 
self will be likely to induce some form of sleep. And further, if that form 
1 See Dr. B ram well's Hypnotism, p. 274. 


of sleep be in fact not an inevitable result of physiological needs, but a 
response to a psychological appeal, it seems not unlikely that we 
should be able to communicate with it without interrupting it; — and 
should thus be able to guide or supplement subliminal operations, just 
as in genius the subliminal self guided or supplemented supraliminal 

Now I hold that in all the varied trances, lethargies, sleep-waking 
states, to which hypnotism introduces us, we see the subliminal self coming 
to the surface in ways already familiar, and displacing just so much of 
the supraliminal as may from time to time be needful for the performance 
of its own work. That work, I say, will be of a character which we know 
already; the difference is that what we have seen done spontaneously we 
now see done in response to our appeal. 

Armed with this simplifying conception, — simplifying in spite of 
its frank admission of an underlying mystery, — we shall find no added 
difficulty in several points which have been the subjects of eager con- 
troversy. The sequence of hypnotic phenomena, the question of the stages 
of hypnotism, is one of these. I have already briefly described how Char- 
cot propounded his three stages — lethargy, catalepsy, somnambulism 
— as though they formed the inevitable development of a physiological 
law; — and how completely this claim has now had to be withdrawn. 
Other schemes have been drawn out, by Liebeault, etc., but none of them 
seems to do more than reflect the experience of some one hypnotist's prac- 
tice. The simplest arrangement is that of Edmund Gurney, who spoke 
only of an " alert stage" and a "deep stage" of hypnosis; and even here 
we cannot say that either stage invariably precedes the other. The alert 
stage, which often came first with Gurney's subjects, comes last in Char- 
cot's scheme; and it is hardly safe to say more than that hypnotism is 
apt to show a series of changes from sleep-waking to lethargy and back 
again, and that the advanced stages show more of subliminal faculty than 
the earlier ones. There is much significance in an experiment of Dr. 
Jules Janet, who, by continued "passes," carried on Wittman, Charcot's 
leading subject, beyond her usual somnambulic state into a new lethargic 
state, and out again from thence into a new sleep-waking state markedly 
superior to the old. 

Gurney held the view that the main distinction of kind between his 
"alert" and his "deep" stage of hypnosis was to be found in the domain 
of memory, while memory also afforded the means for distinguishing the 
hypnotic state as a whole from the normal one. As a general rule (though 
with numerous exceptions), the events of ordinary life are remembered 


in the trance, while the trance events are forgotten on waking, but tend 
to recur to the memory on rehypnotisation. But the most interesting 
part of his observations consisted in showing alternations of memory in 
the alert and deep stages of the trance itself; — the ideas impressed in 
the one sort of state being almost always forgotten in the other, and as 
invariably again remembered when the former state recurs. {Proceedings 
S.P.R. vol. ii., pp. 61 et seq. [523 A].) On experimenting further, he met 
with a stage in which there was a distinct third train of memory, inde- 
pendent of the others ; — and this, of course, suggests a further doubt as 
to there being any fixed number of stages in the trance. The later experi- 
ments of Mrs. Sidgwick [523 B] on the same subject, in which eight or 
nine distinct trains of memory were found — each recurring when the 
corresponding stage of depth of the trance was reached — seem to 
show conclusively that the number may vary almost indefinitely. We 
have already seen that in cases of alternating personalities the number 
of personalities similarly varies, and the student who now follows or 
repeats Gurney's experiments, with the increased knowledge of split 
personalities which recent years have brought, cannot fail to be struck 
with the analogies between Gurney's artificial light and deep states, — 
with their separate chains of memory, — and those morbid alternating 
personalities, with their complex mnemonic cleavages and lacunae, with 
which we dealt in Chapter II. The hypnotic stages are in fact secondary 
or alternating personalities of very shallow type, but for that very reason 
all the better adapted for teaching us from what kinds of subliminal 
disaggregation the more serious splits in personality take their rise. 

And beneath and between these awakenings into limited, partial alert- 
ness lies that profound hypnotic trance which one can best describe as 
a scientific or purposive rearrangement of the elements of sleep ; — a 
rearrangement in which what is helpful is intensified, what is merely 
hindering or isolating is removed or reduced. A man's ordinary sleep 
is at once unstable and irresponsive. You can wake him with a pin- 
prick, but if you talk to him he will not hear or answer you, until you 
rouse him with the mere noise. That is sleep as the needs of our 
timorous ancestors determined that it should be. 

Hypnotic sleep, on the contrary, is at once stable and responsive; 
strong in its resistance to such stimuli as it chooses to ignore; ready in 
its accessibility to such appeals as it chooses to answer. 

Prick or pinch the hypnotised subject, and although some stratum 
of his personality may be aware, in some fashion, of your act, the sleep 
will generally remain unbroken. But if you speak to him, — or even 


speak before him, — then, however profound his apparent lethargy, there 
is something in him which will hear. 1 

All this is true even of earlier stages of trance. Deeper still lies the 
stage of highest interest ; — that sleep-waking in which the subliminal 
self is at last set free, — is at last able not only to receive but to respond: 
when it begins to tell us the secrets of the sleeping phase of personality, 
beginning with directions as to the conduct of the trance or of the cure, 
and going on to who knows what insight into who knows what world 

Without, then, entering into more detail as to the varying forms which 
hypnosis at different stages may assume, I have here traced its central 
characteristic ; — the development, namely, of the sleeping phase of per- 
sonality in such fashion as to allow of some supraliminal guidance of the 
subliminal self. 

We have here a definition of much wider purview than any which 
has been habitually applied to the process of hypnotisation or to the state 
of hypnosis. To test its validity, to explain its scope, we need a survey 
of hypnotic results much wider in range than any enumeration of the kind 
at present usual in text-books. Regarding hypnotic achievements mainly 
in their mental aspects, I must seek for some broad principle of classifica- 
tion which on the one hand may not be so exclusively moral as to be 
physiologically untranslatable, — like the distinction between vice and 
virtue; — or on the other hand so exclusively physiological as to be 
morally untranslatable, — like the distinction between cerebral anaemia 
and hyperemia. 

Perhaps the broadest contrast which is expressible in both moral and 
physiological terms is the contrast between check and stimulus, — between 
inhibition and dynamogeny. Not, indeed, that such terms as check and 
stimulus ' can be pressed in detail. The central power, — the ruling 
agency within the man which gives the command, — is no doubt the 
same in both cases. But the common contrast between negative and 
positive exhortations, — "this you shall not do," "this you shall do," 

1 1 am inclined to think that this is always the case. For a long time the lethargic 
state was supposed at the Salpetriere to preclude all knowledge of what was going on ; 
and I have heard Charcot speak before a deeply-entranced subject as if there were no 
danger of her gathering hints as to what he expected her to do. I believe that his 
patients did subliminally receive such hints, and work them out in their own hypnotic 
behaviour. On the other hand, I have heard the late Dr. Auguste Voisin, one of the 
most persistent and successful of hypnotisers, make suggestion after suggestion to a 
subject apparently almost comatose, — which suggestions, nevertheless, she obeyed 
as soon as she awoke. 


— will help to give clearness to our review of the influences of hypnotism 
in its bearings on intelligence and character, — its psychological efficacy. 

The most rudimentary form of restraint or inhibition lies in our effort 
to preserve the infant or young child from acquiring what we call "bad 
tricks/ ' These morbid affections of motor centres, trifling in their in- 
ception, will sometimes grow until they are incurable by any regime or 
medicament; — nay, till an action so insignificant as sucking the thumb 
may work the ruin of a life. 

In no direction, perhaps, do the results of suggestion appear more 
inexplicable than here. Nowhere have we a more conspicuous touching 
of a spring; — a more complete achievement, almost in a single moment, 
of the deliverance which years of painful effort have failed to effect. 1 

1 According to Dr. Edgar Berillon, who was the first systematically to apply the 
hypnotic method to the education of children (see his paper, "De la Suggestion en- 
visaged au point de vue pedagogique " in the Revue de rHypnotisme, vol. i. (1887), 
p. 84), the percentage of those who can be hypnotised is more than 80, and he asserts 
that suggestibility varies directly as the intellectual development of the subject. He 
classes under four heads the affections which can be successfully treated by hypnotic 
suggestion. (See the Revue de VHypnotisme, July 1895.) 

(1) Psychical derangements caused by acute diseases; in particular, insomnia, 
restlessness, nocturnal delirium, incontrollable vomiting, incontinence of urine and 
of faeces. 

(2) Functional affections connected with nervous disease: chorea, tics, convul- 
sions, anaesthesias, contractures and hysterical paresis, hysterical hiccough, blepha- 

(3) Psychical derangements, such as habit of biting nails, precocious impulsive 
tendencies, nocturnal terrors, speaking in sleep, kleptomania, nervousness, shyness. 

(4) Chorea, hysteria, epilepsy, or mental derangements considered as resulting 
from the combination of several nervous diseases. 

Scattered about in the Revue de VHypnotisme the reader will find numerous illus- 
trative cases. Specially characteristic are those recorded in the number for July 
1893, p. n, and April 1895, p. 306. 

For reports of hypnotic cure of onychophagy, see Berillon, the articles already 
quoted; Bourdon, Revue de VHypnotisme, November 1895, p. 134; Bouffe, Revue 
de VHypnotisme, September 1898, p. 76. 

For reports of hypnotic cure of even graver habits, see Van Renterghem and Van 
Eeden, Psycho-Therapie, p. 250; Bernheim, Revue de VHypnotisme, December 1891, 
a case in which the habit had become quite automatic and irresistible, and where 
every other method of treatment had failed; also De la Suggestion; Schrenck-Notzing, 
Die Suggestions-Therapie bet krankhaften Erscheinungen des Geschlechtssinnes; Beril- 
lon, Revue de VHypnotisme, July 1893, pp. 12, 14, 15; Bourdon, Revue de VHypno- 
tisme, November 1895, pp. 136, 139, 140; Auguste Voisin, Revue de VHypnotisme, 
November 1887, p. 151. 

For cures of enuresis noclurna, see Liebeault, Revue de VHypnotisme, September 
1886, p. 71; Berillon, Revue ale VHypnotisme, June 1894, p. 359; Van Renterghem 


These cases stand midway between ordinary therapeutics and moral 
suasion. No one can here doubt the importance of finding the shortest 
and swiftest path to cure. Nor is there any reason to think that cures 
thus obtained are less complete or permanent than if they had been achieved 
by gradual moral effort. These facts should be borne in mind throughout 
the whole series of the higher hypnotic effects, and should serve to dispel 
any anxiety as to the possible loss of moral training when cure is thus 
magically swift. Each of these effects consists, as we must suppose, in 
the modification of some group of nervous centres; and, so far as we can 
tell, that is just the same result which moral effort made above the con- 
scious threshold more slowly and painfully attains. This difference, in 
fact, is like the difference between results achieved by diligence and results 
achieved by genius. Something valuable in the way of training, — some 
exercise in patience and resolve, — no doubt may be missed by the man 
who is "suggested" into sobriety; — in the same way as it was missed 
by the schoolboy Gauss, — writing down the answers to problems as soon as 
set, instead of spending on them a diligent hour. But moral progress is 
in its essence as limitless as mathematical ; and the man who is thus carried 
over rudimentary struggles may still find plenty of moral effort in life to 
train his character and tax his resolution. 

Among these morbid tricks kleptomania has an interest of its own, 
on account of the frequent doubt whether it is not put forward as a mere 
excuse for pilfering. It may thus happen that the cure is the best proof 
of the existence of the disease; and certain cures indicate that the impulse 

and Van Eeden, Psycho-therapie.; Paul Farez, Revue de VHypnotisme, August 1899, 
p. 53. This author recommends the method of suggestion in normal sleep. 

Liebeault, in the Revue de VHypnotisme for January 1889, gives twenty-two 
cases in which hypnotic suggestion was used in the moral education of children from 
the age of fourteen months upwards, with the aim of curing, e.g. the habit of lying, 
excessive developments of emotions, such as fear and anger, and precocious or de- 
praved appetites; and of improving the normal faculties of attention and memory. 
He reports ten cures, eight improvements, and four failures. 

For other cases of moral education, see Berillon, De la suggestion el de ses applica- 
tions a la pedagogic (1887); VHypnotisme et VOrthopedie morale (1898); Revue de 
VHypnotisme, December 1887, pp. 169-180, and December 1897, p. 162; Bern- 
heim, Revue de VHypnotisme, November 1886, p. 129; Ladame, the same, June and 
July 1887; Voisin, the same, November 1888; De Jong, the same, September 1891; 
Bourdon, the same, August 1896; Van Renterghem and Van Eeden, Psycho-therapie, 
p. 215. Nervous troubles in adults have often been cured by the same means. 
Thus, in the Revue de VHypnotisme, September 1899, p. 73, Dr. Vlavianos records 
a case of tic convulsif cured by hypnotic suggestion. Wetterstrand has used the 
same method with success (Joe. cit., p. 76). See also Janet, Nevroses et I dees Fixes, 
vol. ii., part ii., chapter iii., "Les. Tics," 


has veritably involved a morbid excitability of motor centres, acted on by 
special stimuli, — an idee fixe with an immediate outcome in act. 1 

Many words and acts of violence fall under the same category, in cases 
where the impulse to swear or to strike has acquired the unreasoning auto- 
matic promptness of a tic, and yet may be at once inhibited by suggestion. 
Many undesirable impulses in the realm of sex are also capable of being 
thus corrected or removed. 

The stimulants and narcotics, to which our review next leads us, form 
a standing menace to human virtue. By some strange accident of our 
development, the impulse of our organisms towards certain drugs — 
alcohol, opium, and the like — is strong enough to overpower, in a large 
proportion of mankind, not only the late-acquired altruistic impulses, but 
even the primary impulses of self-regard and self-preservation. We are 
brought back, one may almost say, to the "chimiotaxy" of the lowest 
organisms, which arrange themselves inevitably in specific relation to 
oxygen, malic acid, or whatever the stimulus may be. We thus experience 
in ourselves a strange conflict between moral responsibility and mole- 
cular affinities; — the central will overborne by dumb unnumbered ele- 
ments of our being. With this condition of things hypnotic suggestion 
deals often in a curious way. The suggestion is not generally felt as a 
strengthening of the central will. It resembles rather a molecular redis- 
position; it leaves the patient indifferent to the stimulus, or even disgusted 
with it. The man for whom alcohol has combined the extremes of delight 
and terror now lives as though in a world in which alcohol did not exist 
at all. 2 

Even for the slave of morphia the same sudden freedom is sometimes 
achieved. It has been said of victims to morphia-injection that a cure 
means death; — so often has suicide followed on the distress caused by 
giving up the drug. But in certain cases cured by suggestion it seems 

1 See Berillon, Revue de VHypnotisme, September 1890, p. 75, and February 1896, 
p. 237; Regis, the same, May 1896; De Jong, the same, September 1891, p. 82; and 
Auguste Voisin, the same, November 1888, p. 130. 

2 See Otto Wetterstrand, Der Hypnotismus und seine Anwendung in der prak- 
tischen Medicin; Georg Ringier, Erfolge des therapeutischen Hypnotismus in der 
Landpraxis; Van Renterghem and Van Eeden, Psycho-therapie; Auguste Forel, Einige 
therapeutische Versuche mit dem Hypnotismus bei Geisteskranken; Lloyd Tuckey, 
Revue de VHypnotisme, January 1897, p. 207; Ladame, Revue de VHypnotisme, No- 
vember 1887, p. 131, and December 1887, p. 165; A. Voisin, Revue de VHypnotisme, 
vol. ii. (1888), p. 69, and vol. iii. (1889), p. 353; Vlavianos, Revue de VHypnotisme, 
June 1899, p. 361; Neilson, Revue de VHypnotisme, vol. vi. (1892), p. 17. Berillon, 
Le traitement psychologique de UAlcoolisme. Paris 1906. See also the works of 
Liebeault, Bernheim, and Milne Bramwell. 


that no craving whatsoever has persisted after the sudden disuse of the 
drug. There is something here which is in one sense profounder than 
moral reform. There is something which suggests a spirit within us less 
injured than we might have feared by the body's degradation. The 
morphinomaniac character — the lowest type of subjection to a ruling 
vice — disappears from the personality in proportion as the drug is elim- 
inated from the system. The shrinking outcast turns at once into the 
respectable man. 1 

But apart from troubles consequent on any intelligible instinct, any 
discoverable stimulus of pleasure, there are a multitude of impulses, fears, 
imaginations, one or more of which may take possession of persons not 
otherwise apparently unhealthy or hysterical, sometimes to an extent 
so distressing as to impel to suicide. 

Some of these "phobies" have been often described of late years, — 
as, for instance, agoraphobia, which makes a man dread to cross an open 
space ; and its converse claustrophobia, which makes him shrink from sitting 
in a room with closed doors; or the still more distressing mysophobia, 
which makes him constantly uneasy lest he should have become dirty 
or defiled. 

All these disorders involve a kind of displacement or cramp of the 
attention; and for all of them, one may broadly say, hypnotic sugges- 
tion is the best and often the only cure. Suggestion seems to stimulate 
antagonistic centres; to open clogged channels; to produce, in short, 
however we imagine the process, a rapid disappearance of the insistent 

I have spoken of this effect as though it were mainly to be valued 
intellectually, as a readjustment of the dislocated attention. But I must 
note also that the moral results may be as important here as in the cases 
of inhibition of dipsomania and the like, already mentioned. These 
morbid fears which suggestion relieves may be ruinously degrading to a 
man's character. The ingredients of antipathy, of jealousy, which they 
sometimes contain, may make him dangerous to his fellows as well 
as loathsome to himself. One or two cases of the cure of morbid 

1 There are many instances of the cure of morphinomania. See especially the 
case recorded by Dr. Marot in the Revue de VHypnotisme, February 1893, on account 
of the psychological interest of the patient's own remarks. 

Wetterstrand, out of fourteen cases, records eleven cures of morphinomania. 
In a paper in the Revue de VHypnotisme, November 1890, he discusses the benefit 
of prolonged hypnosis — causing the patient to sleep for a week or more at a time 
— which he tried in one case. See also Voisin, Revue de VHypnotisme, December 
1886, p. 163. 


jealousy are to my mind among the best records which hypnotism has 
to show. 1 

But this is not all. The treasure of memory is mixed with rubbish; 
the caution which experience has taught has often been taught too well; 
philosophic calm has often frozen into apathy. Plato would have the old 
men in his republic plied well with wine on festal days, that their tongues 
might be unloosed to communicate their wisdom without reserve. " Ac- 
cumulated experience," it has been said with much truth in more modern 
language, 2 "hampers action, disturbs the logical reaction of the individual 
to his environment. The want of control which marks the decadence 
of mental power is [sometimes] itself undue control, a preponderance of 
the secondary over the primary influences." 

Now the removal of shyness, or mauvaise honte, which hypnotic sug- 
gestion can effect, is in fact a purgation of memory, — inhibiting the recol- 
lection of previous failures, and setting free whatever group of aptitudes 
is for the moment required. Thus, for the boy called on to make an 
oration in a platform exhibition, hypnotisation sets free the primary in- 
stinct of garrulity without the restraining fear of ridicule. For the musical 
executant, on the other hand, a similar suggestion will set free the secondary 
instinct which the fingers have acquired, without the interference of the 
learner's puzzled, hesitating thoughts. 

I may remark here (following Gurney and Bramwell) how misleading 
a term is mono-ideism for almost any hypnotic state. There is a selection 
of ideas to which the hypnotic subject will attend, and there is a concentra- 
tion upon the idea thus selected; but those ideas themselves may be both 
complex and constantly shifting, and indeed this is just one of the ways 
in which the hypnotic trance differs from the somnambulic — in which 
it may happen that only a relatively small group of brain-centres are awake 
enough to act. The somnambulic servant-girl, for instance, may persist 
in laying the tea-table, whatever you say to her, and this may fairly be 
called mono-ideism; but the hypnotic subject (as Bramwell has justly 
insisted) can be made to obey simultaneously a greater number of separate 
commands than he could possibly attend to in waking life. 

From these inhibitions of memory, — of attention as directed to the 
experiences of the past, — we pass on to attention as directed to the ex- 
periences of the present. And here we are reaching a central point; we 
are affecting the macula lutea (as it has been well called) of the mental 

1 See Dr. A. Dorez, Revue de VHypnotisme, May 1899, p. 345; and Dr. Bourdon, 
the same, November 1893, p. 141 [557 A], 

2 Dr. Hill, British Medical Journal, July 4th, 189 1. 


field. Many of the most important of hypnotic results will be best 
described as modifications of attention. 

Any modification of attention is of course likely to be at once a check 
and a stimulus ; — a check to certain thoughts and emotions, a stimulus 
to others. And in many cases it will be the dynamo genie aspect of the 
change — the new vigour supplied in needed directions — which will be 
for us of greatest interest. Yet from the inhibitive side also we have already 
had important achievements to record. All these arrests and destructions 
of idees -fixes, of which so much has been said, were powerful modifications 
of attention, although the limited field which they covered made it simpler 
to introduce them under a separate heading. 

And even now it may not be without surprise that the reader finds 
described under the heading of inhibition oj attention a phenomenon so 
considerable and so apparently independent as hypnotic suppression of 
pain. This induced analgesia has from the first been one of the main 
triumphs of mesmerism or hypnotism. All have heard that mesmerism 
will stop headaches; — that you can have a tooth out " under mesmerism" 
without feeling it. The rivalry between mesmerism and ether, as anaes- 
thetic agents in capital operations, was a conspicuous fact in the medical 
history of early Victorian times. But the ordinary talk, at any rate of 
that day, seemed to assume that if mesmerism produced an effect at all 
it was an effect resembling that produced by narcotics — a modification 
of the intimate structure of the nerve or of the brain which rendered them 
for the time incapable of transmitting or of feeling painful sensations. 
The state of a man's nervous system, in fact, when he is poisoned by chloro- 
form, or stunned by a blow, or almost frozen to death, or nearly drowned, 
etc., is such that a great part of it is no longer fit for its usual work, — is 
no longer capable of those prolongations of neurons, or whatever they 
be, which constitute its specific nervous activity. We thus get rid of pain 
by getting rid for the time of a great deal of other nervous action as well; 
and we have to take care lest by pushing the experiment too far we get 
rid of life into the bargain. But on the other hand, a man's nervous sys- 
tem, when hypnotic suggestion has rendered him incapable of pain, is 
quite as active and vigorous as ever, — quite as capable of transmitting 
and feeling pain, — although capable also of inhibiting it altogether. In 
a word, the hypnotic subject is above instead of below pain. 

To understand this apparent paradox we must remind ourselves that 
pain probably originated as a warning of danger,— a warning which, 
while useful to active creatures with miscellaneous risks, has become 
only a mixed advantage to beings of more advanced intelligence and 


sensitivity. There are many occasions when, knowing it to be useless, 
we wish to shut off pain, to rise as definitely above it as our earliest ancestors 
were below it, or as the drunken or narcotised man is below it. This 
is just what hypnotic suggestion enables us to do. 

Hypnotism attacks the real origo mali; — not, indeed, the pressure 
on the tooth-nerve, which can only be removed by extraction, but the 
representative power of the central sensorium which converts that pressure 
for us into pain. It diverts attention from the pain, as the excitement of 
battle might do; but diverts it without any competing excitement whatever. 
To this topic of influence on attention we shall have to recur again and 
again. For the present it may suffice if I refer the reader to a few cases 
— chosen from among some thousands where hypnotic practice has re- 
moved or obviated the distress or anguish till now unmistakably asso- 
ciated with various bodily incidents — from the extraction of a tooth 
to the great pain and peril of childbirth. 1 

This suppression of pain has naturally been treated from the thera- 
peutic point of view, as an end in itself; and neither physician nor patient 
has been inclined to inquire exactly what has occurred; — what physio- 
logical or psychological condition has underlain this great subjective relief. 
Yet in the eye of experimental psychology the matter is far from a simple 
one. We are bound to ask what has been altered. Has there been a 
total ablation, or some mere translation of pain? What objective change 

1 In some articles in the Revue Philosophique, published in 1886 and 1887, Del- 
bceuf describes some experiments which suggest that in many of the remarkable 
hypnotic cures recorded in the Zoist (as well as in modern cases) the removal of pain 
was probably an important element in the cure; see e.g. cures of inflammation {Zoist, 
vol. x. p. 347); of neuralgia and chronic rheumatism (vol. ix. pp. 76-79); of abdom- 
inal pains (vol. ix. p. 155); of tic douloureux (vol. viii. p. 186); of severe headaches 
(vol. x. p. 369); of eczema impetiginodes (vol. x. p. 96). 

The general subject of hypnotic analgesia is strikingly illustrated by Esdaile's 
well-known work in the Indian hospitals; see his books, Mesmerism in India (London, 
1846); The Introduction of Mesmerism with Sanction 0} Government into the Public 
Hospitals of India (2nd edit. London, 1856); Natural and Mesmeric Clairvoyance 
(London, 1852); and constant references to him in the Zoist. 

For later cases see British Medical Journal, April 5th, 1890, p. 801; the same, 
February 28th, 1891, pp. 460-468. 

See also Van Renterghem and Van Eeden's Psycho-therapie, pp. 262-280. 

See also the Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. p. 21, and the Revue de VHypnotisme, 
November 1891, p. 132; the same, 1895, p. 300; and for the discussion of a very inter- 
esting recent case of the cure of sycosis menti, see Berillon, Revue de VHypnotisme, 
January 1896, p. 195; Delboeuf, Revue de VHypnotisme, February 1896, p. 225; Durand 
(de Gros), Revue de VHypnotisme, 1896, p. 37. It was also quoted in the British 
Medical Journal for November 16th, 1895. 

i 4 o CHAPTER V 

on the bodily side has occurred in nerve or tissue? and, on the mental 
side, how far does the change in consciousness extend? How deep does 
it go? Does any subliminal knowledge of the pain persist? 

The very imperfect answers which can at present be given to these 
questions may, at any rate, suggest directions for further inquiry. 

(i) In the first place, it seems clear that when pain is inhibited in any 
but the most simple cases, a certain group of changes is produced whose 
nexus is psychological rather than physiological. That is to say, one 
suggestion seems to relieve at once all the symptoms which form one idea 
of pain or distress in the patient's mind; while another suggestion is often 
needed to remove some remaining symptom, which the patient regards 
as a different trouble altogether. The suggestion thus differs both from 
a specific remedy, which might relieve a specific symptom, and from a 
general narcotisation, which would relieve all symptoms equally. In 
making suggestions, moreover, the hypnotiser finds that he has to con- 
sider and meet the patient's own subjective feelings, describing the intended 
relief as the patient wishes it to be described, and not attempting tech- 
nical language which the patient could not follow. In a word, it is plain 
that in this class, as in other classes of suggestion, we are addressing our- 
selves to a mind, an intelligence, which can of itself select and combine, 
and not merely to a tissue or a gland responsive in a merely automatic way. 

(2) It will not then surprise us if, — pain being thus treated as a psycho- 
logical entity, — there shall prove to be a certain psychological complexity 
in the response to analgesic suggestion. 

By this I mean that there are occasional indications that some memory 
of the pain, say, of an operation has persisted in some stratum of the per- 
sonality; — thus apparently indicating that there was somewhere an 
actual consciousness of the pain when the operation was performed. 1 We 
find accounts of the revival of pain in dreams after operations performed 
under chloroform. 2 

(3) Such experiences, if more frequent, might tempt us to suppose 
that the pain is not wholly abrogated, but merely translated to some stratum 
of consciousness whose experiences do not enter into our habitual chain 
of memories. Yet we possess (strangely enough) what seems direct evi- 
dence that the profoundest organic substratum of our being is by suggestion 
wholly freed from pain. It had long been observed that recoveries from 
operations performed in hypnotic trance were unusually benign; — there 
being less tendency to inflammation than when the patient had felt the 

1 See the Revue de VHypnotisme, August 1887. 

2 See the Journal S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 209 [535 A]. 


knife. The same observation — perhaps in a less marked degree — has 
since been made as to operations under chemical anaesthesia. The shock 
to the system, and the irritation to the special parts affected, are greatly 
diminished by chloroform. And more recently Professor Delbceuf, by 
an experiment of great delicacy on two symmetrical wounds, of which 
one was rendered painless by suggestion, has distinctly demonstrated 
that pain tends to induce and keep up inflammation. 1 

Thus it seems that pain is abrogated at once on the highest and on 
the lowest level of consciousness; yet possibly in some cases (though not 
usually 2 ) persists obscurely in some stratum of our personality into which 
we gain only occasional and indirect glimpses. And if indeed this be so, 
it need in no way surprise us. We need to remember at every point that 
we have no reason whatever to suppose that we are cognisant of all the 
trains of consciousness, or chains of memory, which are weaving them- 
selves within us. I shall never attain on earth — perhaps I never shall 
in any world attain — to any complete conspectus of the variously inter- 
woven streams of vitality which are, in fact, obscurely present in my 
conception of myself. 

It is to hypnotism in the first place that we may look for an increased 
power of analysis of these intercurrent streams, these irregularly super- 
posed strata of our psychical being. In the meantime, this power of 
inhibiting almost any fraction of our habitual consciousness at pleasure 
gives for the first time to the ordinary man — if only he be a suggestible 
subject — a power of concentration, of choice in the exercise of faculty, 
such as up till now only the most powerful spirits — a Newton or an 
Archimedes — have been able to exert. 

The man who sits down in his study to write or read, — in perfect 
safety and intent on his work, — continues nevertheless to be involun- 
tarily and inevitably armed with all that alertness to external sights and 
sounds, and all that sensibility to pain, which protected his lowly ancestors 
at different stages of even pre-human development. It is much as though 
he were forced to carry about with him all the external defences which 
his forefathers have invented for their defence ; — to sit at his writing- 
table clad in chain-mail and a respirator, and grasping an umbrella and 
a boomerang. Let him learn, if he can, inwardly as well as outwardly, 
to get rid of all that, to keep at his command -only the half of his faculties 
which for his purpose is worth more than the whole. Dissociation and 
choice; — dissociation between elements which have always hitherto 

1 See the Revue Philosophique, 1886. 

2 See the Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. p. 193 [535 B]. 


seemed inextricably knit; — choice between faculties which till now we have 
had to use all together or not at all; — such is the promise, such is the incipi- 
ent performance of hypnotic plasticity in its aspect of inhibitive suggestion. 

I come now to the division of hypnotic achievement with which I next 
proposed to deal, namely, the dynamogenic results of hypnotic suggestion. 
These I shall arrange in an order resembling that which we try to follow 
in education: — proceeding from external senses to internal sensory and 
other central operations; and thence again to attention and will, and so 
to character which is a kind of resultant of all these. 

I will begin, then, with what seems the most external and measurable of 
these different influences — the influence, namely, of suggestion upon man's 
perceptive faculties; — its power to educate his external organs of sense. 

This wide subject is almost untouched as yet; and there is no direction 
in which one could be more confident of interesting results from further 

The exposition falls naturally into three parts, as suggestion effects 
one or other of the three following objects: 

(i) Restoration of ordinary senses from some deficient condition. 

(2) Vivification of ordinary senses; — hyperaesthesiae. 

(3) Development of new senses; — heteraesthesiae. 

(1) The first of these three headings seems at first sight to belong to 
therapeutics rather than to psychology. It is, however, indispensable 
as a preliminary to the other two heads ; since by learning how and to what 
extent suggestion can repair defective senses we have the best chance of 
guessing at its modus operandi when it seems to excite the healthy senses 
to a point beyond their normal powers. 1 

Two points may be mentioned here. Improvement of vision seems 
sometimes to result from relaxation of an involuntary ciliary spasm, which 
habitually over-corrects some defect of the lens. This is interesting, 
from the analogy thus shown in quite healthy persons to the fixed ideas, 
the subliminal errors and fancies characteristics of hysteria. The stratum 
of self whose business it is to correct the mechanical defect of the eye has 
in these instances done so amiss, and cannot set itself right. The cor- 
rected form of vision is as defective as the form of vision which it replaced. 
But if the state of trance be induced, or if it occur spontaneously, it some- 
times happens that the error is suddenly righted; the patient lays aside 
spectacles; and since we must assume that the original defect of mechanism 

1 For cases bearing on this subject see Dr. Liebeault's Therapeutique Suggestive, 
pp. 64 et seq.; the Revue de I'Hypnotisme, January 1893; and Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. xii. p. 177 [538 A and B]. 


remains, it seems that that defect is now perfectly instead of imperfectly 
met. This shows a subliminal adjusting power operating during trance 
more intelligently than the supraliminal intelligence had been able to 
operate during waking life. 

Another point of interest lies in the effect of increased attention, as 
stimulated by suggestion, upon the power of hearing Dr. Liebeault * 
records two cases which are among the most significant that I know. If 
such susceptibility to self-suggestion could be reached by patients gen- 
erally, there might be, with no miracle at all, a removal of perhaps half 
the annoyance which deafness inflicts on mankind. 

I pass on to cases of the production by suggestion or self-suggestion 
of hyperesthesia, — of a degree of sensory delicacy which overpasses 
the ordinary level, and the previous level of the subject himself. 

The rudimentary state of our study of hypnotism is somewhat strangely 
illustrated by the fact that most of the experiments which show hyper- 
esthesia most delicately have been undertaken with a view of proving 
something else — namely, mesmeric rapport, or the mesmerisation of 
objects, or telepathy. In these cases the proof of rapport, telepathy, etc., 
generally just falls short, — because one cannot say that the action of the 
ordinary senses might not have reached the point necessary for the achieve- 
ment, though there is often good reason to believe that the subject was 
supraliminally ignorant of the way in which he was, in fact, attaining 
the knowledge in question. 

In these extreme cases, indeed, the explanation by hyperesthesia is 
not always proved. There may have been telepathy, although one has 
not the right to assume telepathy, in view of certain slighter, but still re- 
markable, hyperaesthetic achievements, which are common subjects of 
demonstration. The ready recognition of points de repere, on the back 
of a card or the like, which are hardly perceptible to ordinary eyes, is one 
of the most usual of these performances. 

In this connection the question arises as to the existence of physio- 
logical limits to the exercise of the ordinary senses. In the case of the 
eye a minimum visibile is generally assumed; and there is special interest 
in a case of clairvoyance versus cornea-reading, where, if the words were 
read (as appears most probable) from their reflection upon the cornea 
of the hypnotiser, the common view as to the minimum visibile is greatly 
stretched. 2 

1 Therapeutique Suggestive, pp. 64 et seq. 

2 See the Revue Philosophique, November 1886. The same case is discussed 
in Mind for January 1887 [539 A]. 

i 4 4 CHAPTER V 

With regard to the other senses, whose mechanism is less capable of 
minute dissection, one meets problems of a rather different kind. What 
are the definitions of smell and touch? Touch is already split up into 
various factors — tactile, algesic, thermal; and thermal touch is itself a 
duplicate sense, depending apparently on one set of nerve-terminations 
adapted to perceive heat, and another set adapted to perceive cold. Taste 
is similarly split up; and we do not call anything taste which is not defi- 
nitely referred to the mouth and adjacent regions. Smell is vaguer; and 
there are cognate sensations (like that of the presence of a cat) which are 
not referred by their subject to the nose. The study of hyperesthesia 
does in this sense prepare the way for what I have termed heteraesthesia; 
in that it leaves us more cautious in definition as to what the senses are, 
it accustoms us to the notion that people become aware of things in many 
ways which they cannot definitely realise. 

Let us now consider the evidence for heteraesthesia; — for the existence, 
that is to say, under hypnotic suggestion, of any form of sensibility de- 
cidedly different from those with which we are familiar. It would sound 
more accurate if one could say "demanding some end-organ different 
from those which we know that we possess." But we know too little of 
the range of perceptivity of these end-organs in the skin which we are 
gradually learning to distinguish — of the heat-feeling spots, cold-feeling 
spots, and the like — to be able to say for what purposes a new organ 
would be needed. For certain heteraesthetic sensations, indeed, as the 
perception of a magnetic field, one can hardly assume that any end-organ 
would be necessary. It is better, therefore, to speak only of modes of 

Looking at the matter from the evolutionary point of view, the question 
among sensations was one of the development of the fittest; that is to say 
that, as the organism became more complex and needed sensations more 
definite than sufficed for the protozoon, certain sensibilities got themselves 
defined and stereotyped upon the organism by the evolution of end-organs. 1 
Others failed to get thus externalised; but may, for aught we know, persist 
nevertheless in the central organs; — say, for instance, in what for man 
are the optic or olfactory tracts of the brain. There will then be no ap- 
parent reason why these latent powers should not from time to time receive 
sufficient stimulus, either from within or from without, to make them 
perceptible to the waking intelligence, or perceptible at least in states 
(like trance) of narrow concentration. 

1 Nagel suggests that there may have been at a certain stage mixed sense-organs, 
by means of which two or three sensations were perceived simultaneously. 


As the result of these considerations, I approach alleged heteraesthesiae 
of various kinds with no presumption whatever against their real occur- 
rence. Yet on the other hand, my belief in the extent of possible hyper- 
esthesia continually suggests to me that the apparently new perceptions 
may only consist of a mixture of familiar forms of perception, pushed 
to a new extreme, and centrally interpreted with a new acumen, while 
there is no doubt that many experiments supposed to furnish evidence 
of such new perceptions merely illustrate the effect of suggestion or self- 

Without, however, presuming to criticise past evidence wholesale, I 
yet hope that the experience now attained may lead to a much greater 
number of well-guarded experiments in the near future. In Appendix 
V.A, I very briefly present the actual state of this inquiry. In default of 
any logical principle, I shall there divide these alleged forms of sensibility 
according as they are excited by inorganic objects on the one hand, or by 
organisms (dead or living) on the other. 

In the meantime I pass on to that group of the dynamogenic effects 
of suggestion which affect the more central vital operations — either the 
vaso-motor system, or the neuro-muscular system, or the central sensory 
tracts. The effects of suggestion on character — induced changes to 
which we can hardly guess the nervous concomitant — will remain to be 
dealt with later. 

First, then, as to the effects of suggestion on the vaso-motor system. 
Simple effects of this type form the commonest of " platform experiments." 
The mesmerist holds ammonia under his subject's nose, and tells him it 
is rose-water. The subject smells it eagerly, and his eyes do not water. 
The suggestion, that is to say, that the stinging vapour is inert has in- 
hibited the vaso-motor reflexes which would ordinarily follow, and which 
no ordinary effort of will could restrain. Vice versd, when the subject 
smells rose-water, described as ammonia, he sneezes and his eyes water. 
These results, which his own will could not produce, follow on the mes- 
merist's word. No one who sees these simple tests applied can doubt 
the genuineness of the influence at work. We find then, as might be ex- 
pected, that action on glands and secretions constitutes a large element 
in hypnotic therapeutics. The literature of suggestion is full of instances 
where a suppressed secretion has been restored at a previously arranged 
moment, almost with "astronomical punctuality." And yet in what 
memory is that command retained? by what signal is it announced? or 
by what agency obeyed? 

In spite of this underlying obscurity, common to every branch of 


suggestion, these vaso-motor phenomena are by this time so familiar that 
no further description of them is necessary. 

This delicate responsiveness of the vaso-motor system has given rise 
to some curious spontaneous phenomena, and has suggested some experi- 
ments, which are probably as yet in their infancy. The main point of 
interest is that at this point spontaneous self-suggestion, and subsequently 
suggestion from without, have made a kind of first attempt at the modi- 
fication of the human organism in what may be called fancy directions, 
— at the production of a change which has no therapeutic aim, and so 
to say, no physiological unity; but which is guided by an intellectual ca- 
price along lines with which the organism is not previously familiar. I 
speak of the phenomenon commonly known as "stigmatisation," from 
the fact that its earliest spontaneous manifestations were suggested by 
imaginations brooding on the stigmata of Christ's passion; — the marks 
of wounds in hands and feet and side. This phenomenon, which was 
long treated both by savants and by devotees as though it must be either 
fraudulent or miraculous, — ou supercherie, ou miracle, — is now found 
(like a good many other phenomena previously deemed subject to that 
dilemma) to enter readily within the widening circuit of natural law. Stig- 
matisation is, in fact, a form of vesication; and suggested vesication — 
with the quasi-burns and real blisters which obediently appear in any 
place and pattern that is ordered — is a high development of that same 
vaso-motor plasticity of which the ammonia-rose-water experiment was 
an early example. 1 

1 For a circumstantial English account of the well-known case of Louise Lateau, 
see Macmillan's Magazine, vol. xxiii. pp. 488 et seq. 

Three cases of the production of cruciform marks reported by Dr. Biggs, of Lima, 
appeared in the Journal S.P.R., vol. Hi. p. 100. 

Another remarkable American case of stigmatisation was reported in the Courier- 
Journal, Louisville, Ky., December 7th, 1891, on the authority of Dr. M. F. Coomes 
and several other physicians. 

See also the case of lima S. recorded in Dr. R. von Krafft-Ebing's Experimental 
Study in Hypnotism. 

Dr. P. Janet describes somewhat similar experiments in VAutomatisme Psycho- 
logique (see p. 166 et seq.). 

Again, somewhat similar is a case recorded by Dr. J. Rybalkin in the Revue de 
VHypnotisme, June 1890 (p. 361), in which a post-hypnotic suggestion to the subject 
to burn his arm at a stove — really unlighted — produced blisters as of a burn. 

Haemorrhage and bleeding stigmata were several times produced in the famous 
subject, Louis Vive, by verbal suggestion alone. (Drs. Bourru and Burot, Comptes 
Rendus de la Societe de Biologie, July 12th, 1885; and Dr. Mabille, Progres Medical, 
August 29th, 1885.) 


The group of suggestive effects which we reach next in order is a wide 
and important one. The education of the central sensory faculties, — ■ 
of our power of inwardly representing to ourselves sights and sounds, etc., 
— is not less important than the education of the external senses. The 
powers of construction and combination which our central organs possess 
differ more widely in degree in different healthy individuals than the de- 
grees of external perception itself. And the stimulating influence of hyp- 
notism on imagination is perhaps the most conspicuous phenomenon 
which the whole subject offers ; yet it has been little dwelt upon, save from 
one quite superficial point of view. 

Every one knows that a hypnotised subject is easily hallucinated; — 
that if he is told to see a non-existent dog, he sees a dog, — that if he is 
told not to see Mr. A., he sees everything in the room, Mr. A. excepted. 
Common and conspicuous, I say, as this experiment is, even the scientific 
observer has too often dealt with it with the shallowness of the platform 
lecturer. The lecturer represents this induced hallucinability simply as 
an odd illustration of his own power over the subject. "I tell him to 
forget his name, and he forgets his name; I tell him that he has a baby 
on his lap, and he sees and feels and dandles it." At the best, such a 
hallucination is quoted as an instance of "mono-ideism." But the real 
kernel of the phenomenon is not the inhibition but the dynamogeny; — 
not the abstraction of attention or imagination from other topics, but 
the increased power which imagination gains under suggestion; — the 
development of faculty, useless, if you will, in that special form of imagin- 
ing the baby, but faculty mentally of a high order — faculty in one shape 
or another essential to the production of almost all the most admired forms 
of human achievement. 

On this theme I shall have much to say; yet here again it will be con- 
venient to defer fuller discussion until I review what I have termed "sen- 
sory automatism" in a more general way. We shall then see that this 
quickened imaginative faculty is not educed by hypnosis alone; that it 
is a part of the equipment of the subliminal self, and will be better treated 

Professor Beaunis (Recherches Experimentales , etc., Paris, 1886, p. 29) produced 
redness and cutaneous congestion in his subject, Mile. A. E., by suggestion, and the 
experiment was repeated on the same subject by the present writer and Edmund 
Gurney in September 1885 (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 167). 

It appears that there is at- present at the Salpetriere a stigmatisee, the develop- 
ment of whose stigmata has been watched by Dr. Janet under copper shields with 
glass windows inserted in them {Revue de VHypnotisme, December 1900, p. 190). 

Other cases are recorded in the Revue de VHypnotisme, June 1890, p. 353; the 
same February 1892, p. 251 [543 A to H]. 

i 4 8 CHAPTER V 

at length in connection with other spontaneous manifestations. Enough 
here to have pointed out the main fact ; for when pointed out it can hardly 
be disputed, although its significance for the true comprehension of hyp- 
notic phenomena has been too often overlooked. 

Yet here, and in direct connection with hypnotism, certain special 
features of hallucinations need to be insisted upon, both as partly explain- 
ing certain more advanced hypnotic phenomena, and also as suggesting 
lines of important experiment. The first point is this. 

Post-hypnotic hallucinations can be postponed at will. That is to 
say, a constant watchfulness is exercised by the subject, so that if, for 
example, the hypnotiser tells him that he will (when awakened) poke 
the fire when the hypnotiser has coughed three times, the awakened sub- 
ject, although knowing nothing of the order in his waking state, will be 
on the look-out for the coughs, amid all other disturbances, and will poke 
the fire at the fore-ordained signal. 1 Moreover, when the post-hypnotic 
suggestion is executed there will often be a slight momentary relapse into 
the hypnotic state, and the subject will not afterwards be aware that he 
has (for instance) poked the fire at all. This means that the suggested 
act belongs properly to the hypnotic, not to the normal chain of memory; 
so that its performance involves a brief reappearance of the subliminal 
self which received the order. 

Another characteristic of these suggested hallucinations tells in exactly 
the same direction. It is possible to suggest no mere isolated picture, 
— a black cat on the table, or the like, — but a whole complex series of 
responses to circumstances not at the time predictable. This point is 
well illustrated by what are called "negative hallucinations" or "sys- 
tematised anaesthesiae." Suppose, for instance, that I tell a hypnotised 
subject that when he awakes there will be no one in the room with him 
but myself. He awakes and remembers nothing of this order, but sees 
me alone in the room. Other persons present endeavour to attract his 
attention in various ways. Sometimes he will be quite unconscious of 
their noises and movements; sometimes he will perceive them, but will 
explain them away, as due to other causes, in the same irrational manner 
as one might do in a dream. Or he may perceive them, be unable to 
explain them, and feel considerable terror until the " negative hallucina- 
tion " is dissolved by a fresh word of command. It is plain, in fact, through- 
out, that some element in him is at work all the time in obedience to the 
suggestion given, — is keeping him by ever fresh modifications of his 
illusion from discovering its unreality. Nothing could be more charac- 
1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. pp. 268-323 [551 A]. 


teristic of what I have called a "middle-level centre" of the subliminal 
self — of some element in his nature which is potent and persistent without 
being completely intelligent; — a kind of dream-producer, ready at any 
moment to vary and defend the dream. 

Another indication of the subliminal power at work to produce these 
hallucinations is their remarkable range — a range as wide, perhaps, as 
that over which therapeutic effects are obtainable by suggestion. The 
post-hypnotic hallucination may affect not sight and hearing alone (to 
which spontaneous hallucinations are in most cases confined), but all 
kinds of vaso-motor responses and organic sensations — cardiac, stomachic, 
and the like — which no artifice can affect in a waking person. The 
legendary flow of perspiration with which the flatterer sympathises with 
his patron's complaint of heat — si dixeris "^Estuo" sudat — is no exag- 
geration if applied to the hypnotic subject, who will often sweat and shiver 
at your bidding as you transplant him from the Equator to frosty Caucasus. 

Well, then, given this strength and vigour of hallucination, one sees 
a possible extension of knowledge in more than one direction. To begin 
with, by suggestion to the subject that he is feeling or doing something 
which is beyond his normal range of faculties, we may perhaps enable 
him to perceive or to act as thus suggested. 

What we need is to address to a sensitive subject a series of strong 
suggestions of the increase of his sensory range and power. We must 
needs begin by suggesting hallucinatory sensations: — the subject should 
be told that he perceives some stimulus which is, in fact, too feeble for 
ordinary perception. If you can make him think that he perceives it, he 
probably will after a time perceive it; the direction given to his attention 
heightening either peripheral or central sensory faculty. You may then 
be able to attack the question as to how far his specialised end-organs 
are really concerned in the perception; — and it may then be possible 
to deal in a more fruitful way with those alleged cases of transposition 
of senses which have so great a theoretical interest as being apparently 
intermediate between hyperesthesia and telaesthesia or clairvoyance. If 
we once admit (as I, of course, admit) the reality of telaesthesia, it is just 
in some such way as this that we should expect to find it beginning. 

I start from the thesis that the perceptive power within us precedes 
and is independent of the specialised sense-organs, which it has developed 
for earthly use, 

vovs bpq. K<xl vovs &Kofei' raXKa Koxpd. Kal rv<pi\6.. 

I conceive further that under certain circumstances this primary telaes- 
thetic faculty resumes direct operations, in spite of the fleshly barriers 


which are constructed so as to allow it to operate through certain channels 
alone. And I conceive that in thus resuming exercise of the wider faculty, 
the incarnate spirit will be influenced or hampered by the habits or self- 
suggestions of the more specialised faculty; so that there may be apparent 
compromises of different kinds between telaesthetic and hyperaesthetic 
perception, — as the specialised senses endeavour, as it were, to retain 
credit for the perception which is in reality widening beyond their scope. 

In this attitude of mind, then, I approach the recorded cases of trans- 
position of special sense. 1 

Two main hypotheses have been put forward as a general explanation 
of such cases, neither of which seems to me quite satisfactory, (i) The 
common theory would be that these are merely cases of erroneous self- 
suggestion ; — that the subject really sees with the eye, but thinks that 
he sees with the knee, or the stomach, or the finger-tips. This may protj- 
ably have been so in many, but not, I think, in all instances. (2) Dr*. 
Prosper Despine and others suppose that, while the accustomed cerebral 
centres are still concerned in the act of sight, the finger-end (for example) 
acts for the nonce as the end-organ required to carry the visual sensation to 
the brain. I cannot here get over the mechanical difficulty of the absence 
of a lens. However hyperaesthetic the finger-end might be (say) to light 
and darkness, I can hardly imagine its acting as an organ of definite sight. 

My own suggestion (which, for aught I know, may have been made 
before) is that the finger-end is no more a true organ of sight than the 
arbitrary "hypnogenous zone" is a true organ for inducing trance. I 
think it possible that there may be actual telaesthesia, — not necessarily 
involving any perception by the bodily organism; — and that the spirit 
which thus perceives in wholly supernormal fashion may be under the 
impression that it is perceiving through some bizarre corporeal channel 
— as the knee or the stomach. I think, therefore, that the perception 
may not be optical sight at all, but rather some generalised telaesthetic 
perception represented as visual, but incoherently so represented; so that 
it may be referred to the knee instead of the retina. And here again, as 
at several previous points in my argument, I must refer the reader to what 
will be said in my chapter on Possession by external spirits (Chapter IX.) 
to illustrate the operation even of the subject's own spirit acting without 
external aid. 

1 Professor Fontan's experiments described in the Revue Philosbphique , August 
1887, cannot lightly be set aside. An account of his experiments is given in Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R vol. ii. p. 263-268. [549 D]. See also the works of Petetin, Durand, 
Foissac, and Despine, especially Observations de Medecine Pratique, pp. 45, 62, 
and Etude Scientifique sur Somnambulisme, p. 167. 


And now I come to the third main type of the dynamogenic efficacy 
of suggestion : its influence, namely, on attention, on will, and on character 

— character, indeed, being largely a resultant of the direction and per- 
sistence of voluntary attention. 

It will be remembered that for convenience' sake I have discussed 
the dynamogenic effect of suggestion first upon the external senses, then 
upon the internal sensibility, — the mind's eye, the mind's ear, and the 
imagination generally; — and now I am turning to similar effects exercised 
upon that central power which reasons upon the ideas and images which 
external and internal senses supply, which chooses between them, and 
which reacts according to its choice. These are "highest-level centres," 
which I began by saying that the hypnotist could rarely hope to reach; 

— since those spontaneous somnambulisms which the hypnotic trance 
imitates and develops do so seldom reach them. We have, however, 
already found a good deal of intelligence of a certain kind in hypnotic 
phenomena; what we do here is to pass from one stage to another and 
higher stage of consciousness of intelligent action. 

To explain this statement, let us dwell for a moment upon the degree 
of intelligence which is sometimes displayed in those modifications of 
the organism which suggestion effects. Take, for instance, the formation 
of a cruciform blister, as recorded by Dr. Biggs, of Lima. 1 In this experi- 
ment the hypnotised subject was told that a red cross would appear on 
her chest every Friday during a period of four months. For the carrying 
out of this suggestion an unusual combination of capacities was needed; 

— the capacity of directing physiological changes in a new way, and also, 
and combined therewith, the capacity of recognising and imitating an 
abstract, arbitrary, non-physiological idea, such as that of crucijormity. 

All this, in my view, is the expression of subliminal control over the 
organism — more potent and profound than supraliminal, and exercised 
neither blindly nor wisely, but with intelligent caprice. 

Bearing this in mind as we go on to suggestions more directly affecting 
central faculty, in which highest-level centres begin to be involved, we need 
not be surprised to find an intermediate stage in which high faculties 
are used in obedience to suggestion, for purely capricious ends. 

I speak of calculations subliminally performed in the carrying out of 
post-hypnotic suggestions. 

These suggestions a Zcheance — commands, given in the trance, to 
do something under certain contingent circumstances, or after a certain 
time has elapsed — form a very convenient mode of testing the amount 
1 See Journal S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 100 [543 B]. 


of mentation which can be started and carried out without the interven- 
tion of the supraliminal consciousness. Experiments have been made 
in this direction by three men especially who have in recent times done 
some of the best work on the psychological side of hypnotism, namely, 
Edmund Gurney, Delbceuf, and Milne Bramwell. 

Dr. Milne Bramwell's experiments 1 (to mention these as a sample of 
the rest) were post-hypnotic suggestions involving arithmetical calcula- 
tions; the entranced subject, for instance, being told to make a cross when 
20,180 minutes had elapsed from the moment of the order. Their primary 
importance lay in showing that a subliminal or hypnotic memory per- 
sisted across the intervening gulf of time, — days and nights of ordinary 
life, — and prompted obedience to the order when at last it fell due. But 
incidentally, as I say, it became clear that the subject, whose arithmetical 
capacity in common life was small, worked out these sums subliminally 
a good deal better than she could work them out by her normal waking 

Of course, all that was needed for such simple calculations was close 
attention to easy rules ; but this was just what the waking mind was unable 
to give, at least without the help of pencil and paper. If we lay this long 
and careful experiment side by side with the accounts already given of 
the solution of problems in somnambulic states, it seems clear that there 
is yet much to be done in the education of subliminal memory and acumen 
as a help to supraliminal work. 

Important in this connection is Dr. Dufay's account of help given to 
an actress in the representation of her roles by hypnotisation. 2 It seems 
obvious that stage-fright is just the kind of nervous annoyance from which 
hypnotisation should give relief. Somewhat similarly I believe some 
persons can secure a cheap substitute for genius on stage or platform, 
evoking by suggestion or self-suggestion a helpful subliminal uprush. 
Here again, the hypnotisation is a kind of extension of " secondary auto- 
matism," — of the familiar lapse from ordinary consciousness of move- 
ments (walking, pianoforte-playing, etc.), which have been very frequently 
performed. The possibilities thus opened up are very great: no less than 
the combination by mankind of the stability of instinct with the plasticity 
of reason. There seems no reason why man's range of automatism should 
not thus be largely increased in two main ways : many things now unpleasant 
to do might be done with indifference, and many things now difficult to 
do might be done with ease. 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xii. pp. 176-203 [551 C]. 

2 Revue Philosophique, September 1888 [552 A]. 


And now let us pass on from these specialised influences of suggestion 
on certain kinds of attention to its influence on attention generally, as 
needed, for instance, in education. If we can arrest the shifting of the 
mental focus to undesired ideational centres in at all the same way as we 
can arrest the choreic or fidgetty shiftings of motor impulse to undesired 
motor centres, wcshall have done perhaps as much for the world's ordinary 
work as if we had raised the average man's actual intelligence a step higher 
in the scale. We shall have checked waste, although we may not have 
improved quality. The well-known case of Dr. Forel's warders, 1 who 
were enabled by hypnotic suggestion to sleep soundly by the side of the 
patients they had to watch, and wake only when the patients required 
to be restrained, shows us how by this means the attention may be con- 
centrated on selected impressions and waste of energy be avoided in a 
way that could hardly be compassed by any ordinary exercise of the will. 

How far, indeed, we can go in actually heightening intelligence by 
suggestion we have yet to learn. We must not expect to add a cubit to 
intellectual any more than to physical stature. Limitations at birth must 
prevent our developing the common man into a Newton; but there seems 
no reason why we should not bring up his practical achievements much 
nearer than at present to the maximum of his innate capacity. 2 

In passing on from the influence of suggestion on attention to its in- 
fluence on will, I am not meaning to draw any but the most every-day 
distinction between these two forms of inward concentration. The point, 
in fact, which I wish now to notice is rather a matter of common observa- 
tion than a provable and measurable phenomenon. I speak of the energy 
and resolution with which a hypnotic suggestion is carried out; — the 
ferocity, even, with which the entranced subject pushes aside the opposi- 
tion of much more powerful men. I do not, indeed, assert that he would 
thus risk very serious injury; for I believe (with Bramwell and others) that 
there does exist somewhere within him a knowledge that the whole pro- 
ceeding is a mere experiment. But, nevertheless, he actually risks some- 
thing; he behaves, in short, as a confident, resolute man would behave, 
and this however timid and unaggressive his habitual character may be. 
I believe that much advantage may yet be drawn from this confident tem- 
per. We can thus inhibit the acquired self-distrust and shyness of the 
supraliminal self, and get the subliminal self concentrated upon some 

1 Revue de VHypnotisme, vol. vi. p. 357 [553 A]. 

2 For illustrative instances see Brain, Summer Number 1900, p. 207, Revue de 
VHypnotisme, January 1889, and Be"rillon, De la suggestion et de ses applications a la 
pSdagogie (1887) [553 B]. See also Be"rillon, La Psychologie du Courage et l' Edu- 
cation du Caractere. Paris 1905. 


task which may be as difficult as we please; — which may, if we can adjust 
it rightly, draw out to the uttermost the innate powers of man. 

It has been supposed that the mere fact of being hypnotised tended 
to weaken the will; that the hypnotised person fell inevitably more and 
more under the control of the hypnotiser, and even that he could at last 
be induced to commit crimes by suggestion. In his article " What is 
Hypnotism?" 1 Dr. Milne Bramwell shows on how small a foundation 
of fact these fanciful theories have been erected. It may suffice to say 
here that nothing is easier, either for subject or for hypnotiser, than to 
avert undue influence. A trusted friend has only to suggest to the hyp- 
notised subject that no one else will be able to affect him, and the thing 
is done. As to the crimes supposed to be committed by hypnotised per- 
sons under the influence of suggestion, the evidence for such crimes, in 
spite of great efforts made to collect it and set it forth, remains, I think, 
practically nil. 

This fact, I must add, is quite in harmony with the views expressed 
in the present chapter. For it implies that the higher subliminal centres 
(so to term them) never really abdicate their rule; that they may indeed 
remain passive while the middle centres obey the experimenter's caprice, 
but are still ready to resume their control if such experiment should 
become really dangerous to the individual. And this runs parallel with 
common experience in the spontaneous somnambulisms. The sleeper 
may perform apparently rash exploits; but yet, unless he be suddenly 
awakened, serious accidents are very rare. Nevertheless, both in spon- 
taneous and in induced somnambulism, accidents may occur; nor should 
any experiment be undertaken in a careless or jesting spirit. 

But the role of the hypnotiser, as our command over hypnotic artifice 
increases, is likely to become continually smaller in proportion to the role 
played by the subject himself. Especially must this be so where the 
object is to strengthen the subject's own power of will. All that can be 
done from without in such a case is to imbue the man's spirit with the 
sense of its unexhausted prerogatives, — the strength which he may then 
employ, not only to avert pain or anxiety, but in any active direction 
which his original nature itself admits. 

These last words may naturally lead us on to our next topic: the 
influence of suggestion on character, — on that function of combined 
attention and will, which is, of course, also ultimately a function of the 
possibilities latent in the individual germ. 

First of all, then, and going back to the evidence already given as to 

1 Proceedings S.P.R., vol, xii. pp. 204-58 [555 B]. See also his book on Hypnotism, 
pp. 425-32- 


the cure of the victims of morphia, we may say with truth that there we 
have seen as tremendous a moral lift — as sudden an elevation from utter 
baseness to at least normal living — as can be anywhere presented to us. 

Here, then, the question arises as to the possible range of such sudden 
reformations. Did we succeed with the morphinomaniac only because 
his was a junctional, and not an organic, degradation? 

And may it not be a much harder task to create honesty, purity, un- 
selfishness in a brain whose very conformation must keep the spirit that 
thinks through it nearly on the level of the brute? The question is of 
the highest psychological interest; the answer, though as yet rudimentary, 
is unexpectedly encouraging. The examples given in Appendix V. B 
show that if the subject is hypnotisable, and if hypnotic suggestion be 
applied with sufficient persistency and skill, no depth of previous base- 
ness and foulness need prevent the man or woman whom we charge with 
" moral insanity," or stamp as a "criminal-born," from rising into a state 
where he or she can work steadily, and render services useful to the com- 
munity. 1 

1 purposely limit my assertion to these words. We must still work 
within the bounds of natural capacity. Just as we cannot improvise a 
genius, we cannot improvise a saint. But what experience seems to show 
is that we can select from the lowest and poorest range of feelings and 
faculties enough of sound feeling, enough of helpful faculty, to keep the 
man in a position of moral stability, and capable of falling in with the 
common labours of his kind. 

And here we approach a point of much interest. Hypnotic suggestion 
or self-suggestion is not an agency which stands wholly alone. It melts 
into the suasion of ordinary life. Ministers of religion as well as physi- 
cians have always wielded with authority the suasive power. From the 
crude animistic dances and ceremonies of the savage up to the "missions" 
and "revivals" in English and American churches and chapels, we find 
sudden and exciting impressions on mind and sense called into play for 
the purpose of producing religious and moral change. 2 Among the lower 
races especially these exciting reunions often involve both hysterical and 
hypnotic phenomena. There are sometimes convulsive accesses and 
there is sometimes the milder phenomenon of a deep restorative sleep. 
The influence exerted upon the convert is intermediate between hypnotic 

*See also the Revue de VHypnotisme, January 1889, September 1890, November 
1886, November 1888, for cases reported by Liebeault, Berillon, Bernheim, and Voisin. 

2 See Mr. Fryer's paper on "The Welsh Revival of 1904-5," in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. xix. p. 80. 


artifice, dependent on trance-states for access to subliminal plasticity, 
and ordinary moral suasion, addressed primarily to ordinary waking 

Let us pause here to consider the point which we have already reached. 
We began by defining hypnotism as the empirical development of the sleep- 
ing phase of man's personality. In that sleeping phase the most con- 
spicuous element — the most obvious function of the subliminal self 
— is the repair of wasted tissues, the physical, and therefore also largely 
the moral, refreshment and rejuvenation of the tired organism. 

But we found reason to believe that the subliminal self has other func- 
tions to fulfil during sleep. Those other functions are concerned in some 
unknown way with the spiritual world; and the indication of their exer- 
cise is given by the sporadic occurrence, in the sleeping phase, of super- 
normal phenomena. Such phenomena, as we shall presently see, occur 
also at various points in hypnotic practice. To them we must now turn, 
if our account of the phenomena of induced somnambulism is to be 

Yet here, in order to give completeness to our intended review, we 
shall need a certain apparent extension of the scope of this chapter. We 
shall need to consider a group of cases which might have been introduced 
at various points in our scheme, but which are perhaps richest in their 
illustrations of the supernormal phenomena of hypnotism. 

Spontaneous somnambulisms , — those crude uprushes of incoherent 
subliminal faculty which sometimes break through the surface of sleep, 
: — seem to occupy a kind of midway position among the various phenomena 
through which our inquiry has thus far carried us. 

The somnambulism often starts as an exaggerated dream; it develops 
into a kind of secondary personality. The thoughts and impulses which 
the upheaval raises into manifestations — the psychical output — resemble 
sometimes the inspirations of genius, sometimes the follies of hysteria. 
And, finally, the spontaneous sleep-waking state itself is manifestly akin 
to hypnosis, — is sometimes actually interchangeable with the induced 
somnambulisms of the hypnotic trance. The chain of memory which 
repeated spontaneous somnambulisms gradually form, — while lying 
quite outside the primary or waking memory, — will often be found to 
form a part of the hypnotic memory, which gradually accretes in similar 
fashion from repeated hypnosis. 

For one form of sleep-waking capacity we are already prepared by 
what has been said in Chapter IV. of the solution of problems in sleep. 
This is one of the ways in which we can watch the gradual merging of a 


vivid dream into a definite somnambulic act. The solution of a problem 
(as we have seen) may present itself merely as a sentence or a diagram, 
constructed in dream and remembered on waking. Or the sleeper (as in 
various cases familiar in text-books) may rise from bed and write out the 
chain of reasoning, or the sermon, or whatever it may be. Or again, in 
rarer cases the somnambulic output may take the form of oratory, and 
edifying discourses may be delivered by a preacher whom no amount of 
shaking or pinching will silence or, generally, even interrupt. This, so 
to speak, is genius with a vengeance; this is a too persistent uprush of sub- 
liminal zeal, co-operating even out of season with the hortatory instincts 
of the waking self. 

The group of sleep-waking cases which we may next discuss illustrates 
a natural evolution of the faculty of the sleeping phase of personality. 
The subliminal self, exercising in sleep a profounder influence over the 
organism than the supraliminal can exert, may also be presumed to 
possess a profounder knowledge of the organism — of its present, and 
therefore of its future — than the supraliminal self enjoys. 

There are cases * in which the somnambulic personality is discerned 
throughout as a wiser self — advising a treatment, or at least foreseeing 
future developments of the disease with great particularity. Of course, 
in such a case prediction is often simply a form of suggestion; the symptom 
occurs simply because it has been ordained beforehand. In the case of 
cures of long-standing disease the sagacity which foresees probably co- 
operates with the control which directs the changes in the organism. 

The next stage is a very important one. We come to the manifesta- 
tion in spontaneous sleep-waking states of manifestly supernormal powers, 

— sometimes of telepathy, but more commonly of clairvoyance or telaes- 
thesia. Unfortunately, these cases have been, as a rule, very insufficiently 
observed. Still, it appears that in spontaneous somnambulism there is 
frequently some indication of supernormal powers, though the observers 

— even if competent in other ways — have generally neglected to take 
account of the hyperesthesia and heightening of memory and of general 
intelligence that often accompany the state. 

Before leaving this subject of spontaneous sleep-waking states I ought 
briefly to mention a form of trance with which we shall have to deal more 
at length in a later chapter. I speak of trance ascribed to spirit-possession. 
As will be seen, I myself fully adopt this explanation in a small number 

1 See Puysegur, Recherches sur V Homme dans le Somnambulisme (Paris, 181 1); 
Petetin, Electricite Animate (Paris, 1808); Despine, Observations de Medecine Pra- 
tique (1838), and Journal S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 333. 


of the cases where it is put forward. Yet I do not think that spirit-agency 
is necessarily present in all the trances even of a true subject of possession. 
With all the leading sensitives — with D. D. Home, with Stainton Moses, 
with Mrs. Piper and with others — I think that the depth of the trance 
has varied greatly on different occasions, and that sometimes the sub- 
liminal self of the sensitive is vaguely simulating, probably in an uncon- 
scious dream-like way, an external intelligence. This hypothesis suggested 
itself to several observers in the case especially of D. D. Home, with whom 
the moments of strong characterisation of a departed personality, though 
far from rare, were yet scattered among tracts of dreamy improvisation 
which suggested only the utterance of Home's subliminal self. However 
we choose to interpret these trances, they should be mentioned in com- 
parison with all the other sleep- waking states. They probably form the 
best transition between those shallow somnambulisms, on the one hand, 
which are little more than a vivid dream, and those profound trances, 
on the other hand, in which the native spirit quits, as nearly as may be, 
the sensitive's organism, and is for the time replaced, as nearly as may 
be, by an invading spirit from that unseen world. 

This brief review of non-hypnotic somnambulisms has not been with- 
out its lessons. It has shown us that the supernormal powers which we 
have traced in each of the preceding chapters in turn do also show them- 
selves, in much the same fashion, in spontaneous sleep-waking states of 
various types. We must now inquire how far they occur in sleep- waking 
states experimentally induced. 

And here the very fact of induction suggests to us a question specially 
applicable to the hypnotic state itself. Is hypnosis ever supernormally 
induced? Can any one, that is to say, be thrown into hypnotic trance 
by a telepathic impact? or, to phrase it more generally, by any influence, 
inexplicable by existing science, which may pass from man to man? 

In the first place one may say that of the anti-mesmeric schools of 
opinion, the " purely physiological" school has on the whole failed, the 
"purely suggestive" school has triumphantly succeeded. The school of 
Nancy, reinforced by hypnotists all over Europe, has abundantly proved 
that "pure suggestion" (whatever that be) is the determining cause of a 
very large proportion of hypnotic phenomena. That is beyond dispute; 
and the two other schools, the "pure physiologists" and the "mesmerists" 
alike, must now manage to prove as best they can that their favourite 
methods play any real part in the induction of any case of hypnosis. For 
to the pure suggestionist, monotonous stimulation and mesmeric passes 
are alike in themselves inert, are alike mere facilitations of suggestion, 


acting not directly on the patient's organism, but rather on his state of 
mental expectation. 

I reply that there is absolutely no need to go as far as this. In 
admitting suggestion as a vera causa of hypnosis, we are recognising 
a cause which, if we really try to grasp it, resolves itself into sub- 
liminal operation, brought about we know not how. So far, therefore, 
from negativing and excluding any obscure and perhaps supernormal 
agency, the suggestion theory leaves the way for any such agency 
broadly open. Some unknown cause or other must determine whether 
each suggestion is to "take" or no; and that unknown cause must 
presumably act somehow upon the subliminal self. We should have 
something like a real explanation of suggestion, if we could show 
that a suggestion's success or failure was linked with some telepathic 
impact from the suggester's mind, or with some mesmeric effluence 
from his person. 

I know well that in many cases we can establish no link of this 
kind. In Bernheim's rapid hospital practice there seems no oppor- 
tunity to bring the hypnotist's will, or the hypnotiser's organism, into 
any effective rapport with the subject. Rather, the subject seems to 
do all that is wanted for himself almost instantaneously. He often 
falls into the suggested slumber almost before the word "Dortnez/" 
has left the physician's mouth. But on the other hand, this is by no 
means the only type of hypnotic success. Just as in the mesmeric 
days, so also now there are continual instances where much more 
than the mere command has been needed for effective hypnotisation. 
Persistence, proximity, passes — all these prove needful still in the 
practice even of physicians who place no faith at all in the old mesmeric 

The fact is, that since the days of those old controversies between 
mesmerists proper and hypnotists proper, the conditions of the contro- 
versy have greatly changed. The supposed mesmeric effluence was then 
treated as an entirely isolated, yet an entirely physiological phenomenon. 
There was supposed to be a kind of radiation or infection passing from 
one nervous system to another. It was of this that Cuvier (for instance) 
was convinced; it was this theory which Elliotson defended in the Zoist 
with a wealth of illustration and argument to which little justice has even 
yet been done. Yet it was hard to prove effluence as opposed to suggestion, 
because where there was proximity enough for effluence to be effective 
there was also proximity enough for suggestion to be possible. Only in 
some few circumstances, — such as Esdaile's mesmerisation of a blind 


man over a wall, 1 — was it possible to claim that the mesmeric trance had 
been induced without any suspicion whatever on the subject's part that 
the mesmerist was trying to entrance him. 

Since those days, however, the evidence for telepathy — for psychical 
influence from a distance — has grown to goodly proportions. A new 
form of experiment has been found possible, from which the influence 
of suggestion can be entirely excluded. It has now, as I shall presently 
try to show, been actually proved that the hypnotic trance can be induced 
from a distance so great, and with precautions so complete, that telepathy 
or some similar supernormal influence is the only efficient cause which can 
be conceived. 

I subjoin one of a series of experiments in this "telepathic hypnotism." 
(See Appendix V. C.) These experiments are not easy to manage, since 
it is essential at once to prevent the subject from suspecting that the ex- 
periment is being tried, and also to provide for his safety in the event of its 
success. In Dr. Gibert's experiment, for instance, it was a responsible 
matter to bring this elderly woman in her dream-like state through the 
streets of Havre. It was needful to provide her with an unnoticed escort ; 
and, in fact, several persons had to devote themselves for some hours to 
a single experiment. 

I have cited first this experiment at a distance, without attempting 
to analyse the nature of the suggestion given or power employed by the 
hypnotist. Of course it is plain that if one can thus influence unexpectant 
persons from a distance there must be sometimes some kind of power 
actually exercised by the hypnotiser; — something beyond the mere tact 
and impressiveness of address, which is all that Bernheim and his followers 
admit or claim. Evidence of this has been afforded by the occasional 
production of organic and other effects in hypnotised subjects by the 
unuttered will of the operator when near them. The ingenious experi- 
ments of Gurney 2 in the production of local rigidity and anaesthesia were 
undertaken to test whether the agency employed were more in the nature 
of an effort of will or, — as the early mesmerists claimed, — of an emission 
of actual "mesmeric fluid " or physical effluence of some sort. Gurney 
was inclined to think that his results could not be explained solely by 
mental suggestion or telepathy, because the physical proximity of the 
operator's hand seemed necessary to produce them, and he thought it 
probable that they were due to a direct nervous influence, exercised through 

1 Natural and Mesmeric Clairvoyance, pp. 227-28; quoted in Phantasms of the 
Living, vol. i. p. 88. 

2 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. (1888), pp. 14-17. [569 A.] 


the hand of the operator, but not perceptible through the ordinary sensory 
channels. Mrs. Sidgwick's experiments * of the same kind, however, 
in which success was obtained when the operator was standing with folded 
arms several feet away from the subject, removed Gurney's main objec- 
tion to the telepathic explanation. The fact that a thick sheet of glass 
over the subject's hands did not interfere with the results also afforded 
some presumption against the hypothesis of a physical influence; and 
Mrs. Sidgwick pointed out that the delicate discrimination involved in 
the specific limitations of the effects is much more easily attributable to 
mental suggestion, through the action of the operator's mind on that of 
the subject, than to any direct physical influence on the latter's nerves. 

It is, however, in my view, by no means improbable that effluences, 
as yet unknown to science, but perceptible by sensitive persons as the 
telepathic impulse is perceptible, should radiate from living human organ- 
isms. I see no reason to assume that the varied and concordant state- 
ments made by patients in the Zoist and early mesmeric works merely 
reflect subjective fancies. I have myself performed and witnessed ex- 
periments on intelligent persons expressly designed to test whether or 
no the sensation following the hand was a mere fancy. It seems to me 
hardly likely that persons who have never experienced other purely sub- 
jective sensations, and who are expressly alive to the question here at 
issue, should nevertheless again and again feel the classical tingling, etc., 
along the track of the hypnotiser's passes without any real external cause. 
To assume that all which they feel is a mere result of suggestion, may 
be a premature attempt at simplifying modes of supernormal communi- 
cation which, in fact, are probably not simpler but more complex than 
any idea which we have as yet formed of them. 

And here at last we arrive at what is in reality the most interesting 
group of inquiries connected with the hypnotic trance. 

We have just seen that the subliminal state of the hypnotised subject 
may be approached by ways subtler than mere verbal suggestion — by 
telepathic impacts and perhaps by some effluence of kindred supernormal 
type. We have now to trace the supernormal elements in the hypnotic 
response. Whether those elements are most readily excited by a directly 
subliminal appeal, or whether they depend mainly on the special powers 
innate in the hypnotised person, we can as yet but imperfectly guess. We 
can be pretty sure, at any rate, that they are not often evoked in answer 
to any rapid and, so to say, perfunctory hypnotic suggestion; they do not 
spring up in miscellaneous hospital practice; they need an education and 
1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 536-596. [569 B.] 


a development which is hardly bestowed on one hypnotised subject in a 
hundred. The first stage of this response lies in a subliminal relation 
established between the subject and his hypnotiser, and manifesting itself 
in what is called rapport, or in community oj sensation. The earlier stages 
of rapport — conditions when the subject apparently hears or feels the 
hypnotiser only, and so forth — arise probably from mere self-suggestion 
or from the suggestions of the operator, causing the conscious attention 
of the subject to be exclusively directed to him. Indications of the pos- 
sible development of a real link between the two persons may rather be 
found in the cases where there is provable community of sensation, — the 
hypnotised subject tasting or feeling what the hypnotiser (unknown to 
the subject) does actually at that moment taste or feel. 

We have thus brought the hypnotised subject up to the point of know- 
ing supernormally, at any rate, the superficial sensations of his hypno- 
tiser. From that starting-point, — or, at any rate, from some super- 
normal perception of narrow range, — his cognition widens and deepens. 
He may seem to discern some picture of the past, and may retrace the 
history of some object which he holds in his hand, or he may seem to wander 
in spirit over the habitable globe, and to bring back knowledge of present 
facts discernible by no other means. Perhaps he seems to behold the 
future, predicting oftenest the organic history of some person near him; 
but sometimes discerning, as it were pictorially, scattered events to which 
we can guess at no attainable clue. For all this there is already more 
of positive evidence than is generally realised; nor (I must repeat) is there 
any negative evidence which might lead us to doubt that further care in 
developing hypnotic subjects may not at any moment be rewarded in the 
same way. We have here, in fact, a successful branch of investigation 
which has of late years been practically dropped from mere inattention 
to what has been done already, — mere diversion of effort to the easier 
and more practical triumphs of suggestive therapeutics. 1 

The next group of cases to which I pass relate chiefly to knowledge 
of present facts. I may first refer to some experiments in thought-trans- 
ference with hypnotised persons 2 analogous to the experiments with per- 
sons in a normal condition recorded in my next chapter. Here the subject 

1 Beginning with cases partly retrocognitive, the reader is referred to Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. vii. pp. 30-99; Zoist, vol. vii. pp. 95-101 [572 A and B]. 

2 The longest and most important series of experiments in thought-transference 
with hypnotised subjects, carried out by members of the S.P.R., are those of Professor 
and Mrs. Sidgwick. Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. pp. 128-70; and vol. viii. pp. 536-96 
[573 A]. 


seems simply to become aware telepathically of the thoughts of his hyp- 
notiser, the hypnotic condition perhaps facilitating the transfer of the 
impression. Next come the cases of what used to be called "travelling 
clairvoyance" in the hypnotic state. These are more like the partially 
retrocognitive cases in that they cannot be traced with certainty to the 
contemporary thoughts of any particular person. In travelling clairvoy- 
ance we seem to have a development of " invasive dreams," — of those 
visions of the night in which the sleeper seems to visit distant scenes and 
to bring back intelligence otherwise unattainable. These distant hyp- 
notic visions seem to develop out of thought-transference; thus the subject 
may discern an imaginary picture as it is conceived in the hypnotiser's 
mind. Thence he may pass on and discern a true contemporaneous 
scene, 1 unknown to any one present, and in some few cases there is an 
element of apparent prevision in the impression. 2 

Our survey of that important, though inchoate, appeal to the sub- 
liminal self which passes under the name of hypnotism is now nearly as 
complete — in its brief sketchy form — as the present state of knowledge 

I have attempted to trace the inevitable rise of hypnotism — its neces- 
sary development out of the spontaneous phenomena which preceded 
and which might so naturally have suggested it. I have shown, never- 
theless, its almost accidental initiation, and then its rapid development 
in ways which no single experimenter has ever been able to correlate or 
to foresee. I am bound to say something further as to its prospect in the 
future. A systematic appeal to the deeper powers in man — conceived 
with the generality with which I have here conceived it — cannot remain 
a mere appanage of medical practice. It must be fitted on in some way 
to the whole serious life of man; it must present itself to him as a develop- 
ment of faiths and instincts which lie already deep in his heart. In other 
words, there must needs be some scheme oj self-suggestion, — some general 
theory which can give the individual a basis for his appeal, whether he 
regards that appeal as directed to an intelligence outside himself or to his 
own inherent faculties and informing soul. These helps to the power 
of generalisation — to the feeling of confidence — we must consider 
now. * 

The schemes of self-suggestion which have actually been found effective 
have covered, not unnaturally, a range as wide as all the superstition and 

1 Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vii. pp. 199-220; Dr. Fahnestock's Statuvolism, pp. 
117-35, 221-32 [573 B, C and D]. 

2 Zoist, vol. xii. pp. 249-52 [573 F]. 


all the religion of men. That is to say that each form of supernatural 
belief in turn has been utilised as a means of securing that urgently-needed 
temporal blessing — relief from physical pain. We see the same tendency 
running through fetichistic, polytheistic, monotheistic forms of belief. 
Beginning with fetichistic peoples, we observe that charms of various 
kinds, — inert objects, arbitrary gestures, meaningless words, — have 
probably been actually the most general means which our race has em- 
ployed for the cure of disease. We know how long some forms of prim- 
itive belief persisted in medicine, — as, for example, the doctrine of like- 
nesses, or the cure of a disease by some object supposed to resemble its 
leading symptom. What is, however, even more remarkable is the efficacy 
which charms still continue in some cases to possess, even when they are 
worn merely as an experiment in self-suggestion by a person who is per- 
fectly well aware of their intrinsic futility. Experiments on this subject 
seem to show that the mere continual contact of some small unfamiliar 
object will often act as a reminder to the subliminal self, and keep, at any 
rate, some nervous disturbances in check. Until one reads these modern 
examples, one can hardly realise how veritably potent for good may have 
been the savage amulet, the savage incantation. 

The transition from fetichistic to polytheistic conceptions of cure is, 
of course, a gradual one. It may be said to begin when curative proper- 
ties are ascribed to objects not arbitrarily, nor on account of the look of 
the objects themselves, but on account of their having been blessed or 
handled by some divine or semi-divine personage, or having formed part 
of his body or surroundings during some incarnation. Thus Lourdes 
water, bottled and exported, is still held to possess curative virtue on ac- 
count of the Virgin's original blessing bestowed upon the Lourdes spring. 
But generally the influence of the divine or divinised being is more directly 
exercised, as in oracles, dreams, invisible touches, or actual theophanies, 
or appearances of the gods to the adoring patient. It will be seen as we 
proceed how amply the tradition of Lourdes has incorporated these 
ancient aids to faith. 

But at this point our modern experience suggests to us a remarkable 
interpolation in the antique chain of ideas. It is now alleged that de- 
parted persons need not exert influence through their dead bones alone, 
nor yet only by their supposed intermediacy with higher powers. There 
intervenes, in fact, the whole topic of spirit-healing, — which cannot, 
however, be treated fully here. 

Next in the ascending scale from polytheism to monotheism we come 
to the " Miracles of Lourdes," to which I have just alluded, where the 


supposed healer is the Virgin Mary, reverenced as semi-divine. This 
form of belief, however, retains (as has been said) some affinity with 
fetichism, since the actual water from the Lourdes spring, supposed to have 
been blessed by the Virgin, is an important factor in the cures. 1 

Much further removed from primitive belief is the appeal made by 
Christian scientists to the aid of Jesus Christ ; — either as directly answer- 
ing prayer, or as enabling the worshippers to comprehend the infinite 
love on which the universe is based, and in face of which pain and sick- 
ness become a vain imagination or even a sheer nonentity. To the 
readers of this chapter, however, there will be nothing surprising in my 
own inclination to include all these efforts at health under the general 
category of schemes of self-suggestion. 

In my view they are but crude attempts at a practical realisation of 
the essential truth that it is possible by a right disposition of our own 
minds to draw energy from an environing world of spiritual life. 

It seems, at least, that no real explanation of hypnotic vitalisa- 
tion can, in fact, be given except upon the general theory supported in this 
work — the theory that a world of spiritual life exists, an environment 
profounder than those environments of matter and ether which in a sense 
we know. Let us look at this hypothesis a little more closely. When we 
say that an organism exists in a certain environment, we mean that its 
energy, or some part thereof, forms an element in a certain system of cosmic 
forces, which represents some special modification of the ultimate energy. 
The life of the organism consists in its power of interchanging energy with 
its environment, — of appropriating by its own action some fragment 
of that pre-existent and limitless Power. We human beings exist in the 
first place in a world of matter, whence we draw the obvious sustenance 
of our bodily functions. 

We exist also in a world of ether; — that is to say, we are constructed 
to respond to a system of laws, — ultimately continuous, no doubt, with 
the laws of matter, but affording a new, a generalised, a profounder con- 
ception of the Cosmos. So widely different, indeed, is this new aspect of 
things from the old, that it is common to speak of the ether as a newly- 
known environment. On this environment our organic existence depends 
as absolutely as on the material environment, although less obviously. 
In ways which we cannot fathom, the ether is at the foundation of our 
physical being. Perceiving heat, light, electricity, we do but recognise 
in certain conspicuous ways, — as in perceiving the "X rays" we recognise 

1 See "Mind-Cure, Faith-Cure, and the Miracles of Lourdes," by A. T. Myers, 
M.D., F.R.C.P., and F. W. H. Myers, Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 160-210. 


in a way less conspicuous, — the pervading influence of etherial vibrations 
which in range and variety far transcend our capacity of response. 

Within, beyond, the world of ether, — as a still profounder, still more 
generalised aspect of the Cosmos, — must lie, as I believe, the world of 
spiritual life. That the world of spiritual life does not depend upon the 
existence of the material world I hold as now proved by actual evidence. 
That it is in some way continuous with the world of ether I can well sup- 
pose. But for our minds there must needs be a " critical point" in any 
such imagined continuity; so that the world where life and thought are 
carried on apart from matter, must certainly rank again as a new, a mete- 
therial environment. In giving it this name I expressly imply only that 
from our human point of view it lies after or beyond the ether, as metaphysic 
lies after or beyond physics. I say only that what does not originate in 
matter or in ether originates there; but I well believe that beyond the ether 
there must be not one stage only, but countless stages in the infinity of 

On this hypothesis there will be an essential concordance between all 
views — spiritual or materialistic — which ascribe to any direction of 
attention or will any practical effect upon the human organism. "The 
prayer of faith shall save the sick," says St. James. "There is nothing 
in hypnotism but suggestion," says Bernheim. In my clumsier language 
these two statements (setting' aside a possible telepathic element in St. 
James' words) will be expressible in identical terms. "There will be 
effective therapeutical or ethical self-suggestion whenever by any artifice 
subliminal attention to a bodily function or to a moral purpose is carried 
to some unknown pitch of intensity which draws energy from the mete- 
therial world." 

A great practical question remains, to which St. James' words supply 
a direct, though perhaps an inadequate answer, while Bernheim 's words 
supply no answer at all. 

What is this saving faith to be, and how is it to be attained? Can 
we find any sure way of touching the spring which moves us so potently, 
at once from without and from within? Can we propose any form 
of self-suggestion effective for all the human race? any controlling 
thought on which all alike can fix that long-sought mountain-moving 

Assuredly no man can extemporise such a faith as this. Whatever 
form it may ultimately take, it must begin as the purification, the intensi- 
fication, of the purest, the intensest beliefs to which human minds have 
yet attained. It must invoke the whole strength of all philosophies, of all 


religions; — not indeed the special arguments or evidence adduced for 
each, which lie outside my present theme, but all the spiritual energy by 
which in truth they live. And so far as this purpose goes, of drawing 
strength from the unseen, if one faith is true, all faiths are true; in so far 
at least as human mind can grasp or human prayer appropriate the 
unknown metetherial energy, the inscrutable Grace of God. 


&\4irofX€v ykp Upri 8i' iffdirrpov iv divly/xan. 

Each of the several lines of inquiry pursued in the foregoing chapters 
has brought indications of something transcending sensory experience 
in the reserves of human faculty; and we have come to a point where we 
need some further colligating generalisation — some conception under 
which these scattered phenomena may be gathered in their true kinship. 

Some steps at least towards such a generalisation the evidence to be 
presented in these next chapters may allow us to take. Considering to- 
gether, under the heading of sensory and motor automatism, the whole 
range of that subliminal action of which we have as yet discussed frag- 
ments only, we shall gradually come to see that its distinctive faculty of 
telepathy or telaesthesia is in fact an introduction into a realm where the 
limitations of organic life can no longer be assumed to persist. Consid- 
ering, again, the evidence which shows that that portion of the personality 
which exercises these powers during our earthly existence does actually 
continue to exercise them after our bodily decay, we shall recognise a rela- 
tion — obscure but indisputable — between the subliminal and the sur- 
viving self. 

I begin, then, with my definition of automatism, as the widest term 
under which to include the range of subliminal emergences into ordinary 
life. The turbulent uprush and downdraught of hysteria; the helpful 
uprushes of genius, co-operating with supraliminal thought; the profound 
and recuperative changes which follow on hypnotic suggestion; these 
have been described under their separate headings. But the main mass 
of subliminal manifestations remains undescribed. I have dealt little 
with veridical hallucinations, not at all with automatic writing, nor with 
the utterances of spontaneous trance. The products of inner vision or 
inner audition externalised into quasi-percepts, — these form what I term 
sensory automatisms. The messages conveyed by movement of limbs 
or hand or tongue, initiated by an inner motor impulse beyond the 



conscious will — these are what I term motor automatisms. And I claim 
that when all these are surveyed together their essential analogy will be 
recognised beneath much diversity of form. They will be seen to be 
messages from the subliminal to the supraliminal self; endeavours — con- 
scious or unconscious — of submerged tracts of our personality to present 
to ordinary waking thought fragments of a knowledge which no ordinary 
waking thought could attain. 

I regard supraliminal life merely as a privileged case of personality; 
a special phase of our personality, which is easiest for us to study, because 
it is simplified for us by our ready consciousness of what is going on in 
it; yet which is by no means necessarily either central or prepotent, could 
we see our whole being in comprehensive view. 

Now if we thus regard the whole supraliminal personality as a special 
case of something much more extensive, it follows that we must similarly 
regard all human faculty, and each sense severally, as mere special or 
privileged cases of some more general power. 

All human terrene faculty will be in this view simply a selection from 
faculty existing in the metetherial world; such part of that antecedent, 
even if not individualised, faculty as may be expressible through each 
several human organism. 

Each of our special senses,, therefore, may be conceived as straining 
towards development of a wider kind than earthly experience has as yet 
allowed. And each special sense is both an internal and an external 
sense; involves a tract of the brain, of unknown capacity, as well as an 
end-organ, whose capacity is more nearly measurable. The relation 
of this internal, mental, mind's-eye vision to non-sensory psychological 
perception on the one hand, and to ocular vision on the other hand, is 
exactly one of the points on which some profounder observation will be 
seen to be necessary. One must at least speak of "mind's eye" percep- 
tion in these sensory terms, if one is to discuss it at all. 

But ordinary experience at any rate assumes that the end-organ alone 
can acquire fresh information, and that the central tract can but combine 
this new information already sent in to it. This must plainly be the case, 
for instance, with optical or acoustic knowledge ; — with such knowledge 
as is borne on waves of ether or of air, and is caught by a terminal 
apparatus, evolved for the purpose. But observe that it is by no 
means necessary that all seeing and all hearing should be through eye 
or ear. 

The vision of our dreams — to keep to vision alone for greater simpli- 
city — is non-optical vision. It is usually generated in the central brain, 


not sent up thither from an excited retina. Optical laws can only by a 
stretch of terms be said to apply to it at all. 

Let us attempt some rough conspectus, which may show something 
of the relation in which central and peripheral vision stand to each other. 

We start from a region below the specialisation of visual faculty. The 
study of the successive dermal and nervous modifications which have led 
up to that faculty belongs to Biology, and all that our argument needs 
here is to point out that the very fact that this faculty has been developed 
in a germ, animated by metetherial life, indicates that some perceptivity 
from which sight could take its origin pre-existed in the originating, the 
unseen world. We know vaguely how vision differentiated itself peri- 
pherally, with the growing sensibility of the pigment-spot to light and 
shadow. But there must have been a cerebral differentiation also, and 
also a psychological differentiation, namely, a gradual shaping of a dis- 
tinct feeling from obscure feelings, whose history we cannot recover. 

Yet I believe that we have still persistent in our brain-structure some 
dim vestige of the transition from that early undifferentiated continuous 
sensitivity to our existing specialisation of sense. Probably in all of us, 
though in some men much more distinctly than in others, there exist cer- 
tain synesthesia or concomitances of sense-impression, which are at any 
rate not dependent on any recognisable link of association. 1 My present 
point is that such synesthesia? stand on the dividing line between percepts 
externally and internally originated. These irradiations of sensitivity, 

1 For a true synaesthetic or "sound-seer," — to take the commonest form of these 
central repercussions of sensory shock, — there is a connection between sight and 
sound which is instinctive, complex, and yet for our intelligence altogether arbitrary. 

But sound-seeing is only a conspicuous example of synaesthesiae which exist in as 
yet unexplored variety. When we find that there are gradated, peremptory, inex- 
plicable associations connecting sensations of light and colour with sensations of 
temperature, smell, taste, muscular resistance, etc., we are led to conclude that we 
are dealing, not with the casual associations of childish experience, but with some 
reflection or irradiation of specialised sensations which must depend upon the connate 
structure of the brain itself. 

This view is consistent with the results of an Enquete sur V audition coloree recently 
conducted by Professor Flournoy, from which it appears that of 213 persons presenting 
these associations only 48 could assign the date of their origin; and is supported by a 
case described in the Revue de VHypnotisme, December 1892, p. 185, where a man 
who had long exhibited a limited form of audition coloree developed gustation coloree 
in addition when in a low state of health. 

See also the "Report of the International Congress of Experimental Psychology, 
Second Session, London, 1892," pp. 10-20 (Williams & Norgate, London, 1892), 
and the American Journal of Psychology for April 1900 (vol. xi. pp. 377-404). 


sometimes apparently congenital, cannot, on the one hand, be called 
a purely mental phenomenon. Nor again can they be definitely classed 
under external vision; since they do sometimes follow upon a mental 
process of association. It seems safer to term them entencephalic, on the 
analogy of entoptic, since they seem to be due to something in brain-struc- 
ture, much as entoptic percepts are due to something in the structure of 
the eye. 

I will, then, start with the synesthesia? as the most generalised form 
of inward perception, and will pass on to other classes which approach 
more nearly to ordinary external vision. 

From these entencephalic photisms we seem to proceed by an easy 
transition to the most inward form of unmistakable entoptic vision — which 
is therefore the most inward form of all external vision — the flash of 
light consequent on electrisation of the optic nerve. Next on our outward 
road we may place the phosphenes caused by pressure on the optic nerve 
or irritation of the retina. Next PurkinjVs figures, or shadows cast by 
the blood-vessels of the middle layer upon the bacillary layer of the retina. 
Then muscce volitantes, or shadows cast by motes in the vitreous humour 
upon the fibrous layer of the retina. 

Midway, again, between entoptic and ordinary external vision we 
may place after-images; which, although themselves perceptible with shut 
eyes, presuppose a previous retinal stimulation from without; — forming, 
in fact, the entoptic sequelae of ordinary external vision. 

Next comes our ordinary vision of the external world — and this, 
again, is pushed to its highest degree of externality by the employment of 
artificial aids to sight. He who gazes through a telescope at the stars 
has mechanically improved his end-organs to the furthest point now 
possible to man. 

And now, standing once more upon our watershed of entencephalic 
vision, let us trace the advancing capacities of internal vision. The forms 
of vision now to be considered are virtually independent of the eye; they 
can persist, that is to say, after the destruction of the eye, if only the eye 
has worked for a few years, so as to give visual education to the brain. 
We do not, in fact, fully know the limits of this independence, which can 
only be learnt by a fuller examination of intelligent blind persons than has 
yet been made. Nor can we say with certainty how far in a seeing person 
the eye is in its turn influenced by the brain. I shall avoid postulating 
any "retropulsive current" from brain to retina, just as I have avoided 
any expression more specific than "the brain" to indicate the primary 
seat of sight. The arrangement here presented, as already explained, is a 


psychological one, and can be set forth without trespassing on contro- 
verted physiological ground. 

We may take memory-images as the simplest type of internal vision. 
These images, as commonly understood, introduce us to no fresh know- 
ledge; they preserve the knowledge gained by conscious gaze upon the 
outer world. In their simplest spontaneous form they are the cerebral 
sequelae of external vision, just as after-images are its entoptic sequelae. 
These two classes of vision have been sometimes confounded, although 
the distinction is a marked one. Into the cerebral storage of impres- 
sions one element habitually enters which is totally absent from the mere 
retinal storage, namely, a psychical element — a rearrangement or 
generalisation of the impressions retinally received. 

Next we come to a common class of memory-images, in which the 
subliminal rearrangement is particularly marked. I speak of dreams — 
which lead us on in two directions from memory-images; in the direction 
of imagination-images , and in the direction of hallucinations. Certain 
individual dreams, indeed, of rare types point also in other directions 
which later on we shall have to follow. But dreams as a class consist of 
confused memory-images, reaching a kind of low hallucinatory intensity, 
a glow, so to say, sufficient to be perceptible in darkness. 

I will give the name of imagination-images to those conscious re- 
combinations of our store of visual imagery which we compose either for 
our mere enjoyment, as "waking dreams," or as artifices to help us to the 
better understanding of facts of nature confusedly discerned. Such, for 
instance, are imagined geometrical diagrams; and Watt, lying in bed in a 
dark room and conceiving the steam-engine, illustrates the utmost limit 
to which voluntary internal visualisation can go. 

Here at any rate the commonly admitted category of stages of inward 
vision will close. Thus far and no farther the brain's capacity for pre- 
senting visual images can be pushed on under the guidance of the conscious 
will of man. It is now my business to show, on the contrary, that we 
have here reached a mere intermediate point in the development of internal 
vision. These imagination-images, valuable as they are, are merely at- 
tempts to control supraliminally a form of vision which — as spontaneous 
memory-images have already shown us — is predominantly subliminal. 
The memory-images welled up from a just-submerged stratum; we must 
now consider what other images also well upward from the same hidden 

To begin with, it is by no means certain that some of Watt's images 
of steam-engines did not well up from that source, — did not emerge ready- 


made into the supraliminal mind while it rested in that merely expectant 
state which forms generally a great part of invention. We have seen in 
Chapter III. that there is reason to believe in such a conveyance in the 
much inferior mental processes of calculating boys, etc., and also in the 
mental processes of the painter. In short, without pretending to judge of 
the proportion of voluntary to involuntary imagery in each several creative 
mind, we must undoubtedly rank the spontaneously emergent visual 
images of genius as a further stage of internal vision. 

And now we have reached, by a triple road, the verge of a most impor- 
tant development of inward vision — namely, that vast range of phenomena 
which we call hallucination. Each of our last three classes had led up to 
hallucination in a different way. Dreams actually are hallucinations; 
but they are usually hallucinations of low intensity; and are only rarely 
capable of maintaining themselves for a few seconds (as hypnopompic 
illusions) when the dreamer wakes to the stimuli of the material world. 
Imagination-images may be carried to a hallucinatory pitch by good visual- 
isers. 1 And the inspirations of genius — Raphael's San Sisto is the classical 
instance — may present themselves in hallucinatory vividness to the 
astonished artist. 

A hallucination, one may say boldly, is in fact a hyperesthesia; and 
generally a central hyperesthesia. That is to say, the hallucination is 
in some cases due indirectly to peripheral stimulation; but often also it is 
the result of a stimulus to "mind's-eye vision," which sweeps the idea 
onwards into visual form, regardless of ordinary checks. 

Here, then, is a comprehensive and reasonable way of regarding these 
multifarious hallucinations or sensory automatisms. They are phenomena 
which must neither be feared nor ignored, but rather controlled and in- 
terpreted. Nor will that interpretation be an easy matter. The inter- 
pretation of the symbols by which the retina represents the external world 
has been, whether for the race or for the individual, no short or simple 
process. Yet ocular vision is in my view a simple, easy, privileged case 
of vision generally; and the symbols which represent our internal percepts 
of an immaterial world are likely to be far more complex than any 
impressions from the material world on the retina. 

All inward visions are like symbols abridged from a picture-alphabet. 
In order to understand any one class of hallucinations we ought to have 
all classes before us. At the lower limit of the series, indeed, the analysis 
of the physician should precede that of the psychologist. We already 
know to some extent, and may hope soon to know more accurately, what 
1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 480 [610 A]. 


sensory disturbance corresponds to what nervous lesion. Yet these violent 
disturbances of inward perception — the snakes of the drunkard, the scarlet 
fire of the epileptic, the jeering voices of the paranoiac — these are per- 
haps of too gross a kind to afford more than a kind of neurological 
introduction to the subtler points which arise when hallucination is 
unaccompanied by any observable defect or malady. 

It is, indeed, obvious enough that the more idiognomonic the halluci- 
nation is, the more isolated from any other disturbance of normality, the 
greater will be its psychological interest. An apparently spontaneous 
modification of central percepts — what phenomenon could promise to 
take us deeper into the mystery of the mind? 

Yet until quite recently — until, in short, Edmund Gurney took up 
the inquiry in 1882 — this wide, important subject was treated, even in 
serious text-books, in a superficial and perfunctory way. Few statistics 
were collected; hardly anything was really known; rather there was a 
facile assumption that all hallucinations or sensory automatisms must 
somehow be due to physical malady, even when there was no evidence 
whatever for such a connection. I must refer my readers to Gurney's 
resume in his chapter on " Hallucinations" in Phantasms oj the Living, 
if they would realise the gradual confused fashion in which men's minds 
had been prepared for the wider view soon to be opened, largely by Gur- 
ney's own statistical and analytical work. The wide collection of first- 
hand experiences of sensory automatisms of every kind which he initiated, 
and which the S.P.R. " Census of Hallucinations" continued after his 
death, has for the first time made it possible to treat these phenomena 
with some surety of hand. 1 

The results of these inquiries show that a great number of sensory 
automatisms occur among sane and healthy persons, and that for many 
of these we can at present offer no explanation whatever. For some of 
them, however, we can offer a kind of explanation, or at least an indica- 
tion of a probable determining cause, whose mode of working remains 
wholly obscure. 

Thus, in some few instances, although there is no disturbance of health, 
there seems to be a predisposition to the externalisation of figures or sounds. 
Since this in no way interferes with comfort, we must simply class it as 

1 The "Census of Hallucinations" was undertaken in 1889, by a Committee of the 
S.P.R., under the direction of Professor Sidgwick, and consisting of himself and Mrs. 
Sidgwick, Dr. A. T. Myers, Mr. F. Podmore, Miss A. Johnson, and the present writer. 
The full report of the committee was published in 1894. {Proceedings S.P.R, vol. x. 
pp. 25-422.) A summary of the report is given in the original edition. [612 AJ 


an idiosyncratic central hyperassthesia — much like the tendency to ex- 
tremely vivid dreams, which by no means always implies a poor quality 
of sleep. 

In a few instances, again, we can trace moral predisposing causes — 
expectation, grief, anxiety. 

These causes, however, turn out to be much less often effective than 
might have been expected from the popular readiness to invoke them. 
In two ways especially the weakness of this predisposing cause is impressed 
upon us. In the first place, the bulk of our percipients experience their 
hallucinations at ordinary unexciting moments; traversing their more 
anxious crises without any such phenomenon. In the second place, those 
of our percipients whose hallucination is in fact more or less coincident 
with some distressing external event, seldom seem to have been predis- 
posed to the hallucination by a knowledge of the event. For the event 
was generally unknown to them when the corresponding hallucination 

This last remark, it will be seen, introduces us to the most interesting 
and important group of percipients and of percepts; the percipients whose 
gift constitutes a fresh faculty rather than a degeneration; the percepts 
which are veridical — which are (as we shall see cause to infer) in some 
way generated by some event outside the percipient's mind, so that their 
correspondence with that event conveys some new fact, in however obscure 
a form. It is this group, of course, which gives high importance to the 
whole inquiry; which makes the study of inward vision no mere curiosity, 
but rather the opening of an inlet into forms of knowledge to which we 
can assign no bound. 

Now these telepathic hallucinations will introduce us to very varying 
forms of inward vision. It will be well to begin their study by recalling 
and somewhat expanding the thesis already advanced: that man's ocular 
vision is but a special or privileged case of visual power, of which power 
his inner vision affords a more extensive example. 

Ocular vision is the perception of material objects, in accordance with 
optical laws, from a definite point in space. Our review of hallucinations 
has already removed two of these limitations. If I see a hallucinatory 
figure — and figures seen in dreams come under this category — I see 
something which is not a material object, and I see it in a manner not 
determined by optical laws. A dream-figure may indeed seem to conform 
to optical laws ; but that will be the result of self-suggestion, or of organised 
memories, and will vary according to the dreamer's visualising power. 
While a portrait-painter may see a face in dream which he can paint from 


memory when he wakes, the ordinary man's dream-percept will be vague, 
shifting, and unrememberable. 

Similarly, if I see a subjective hallucinatory figure "out in the room," 
its aspect is not determined by optical laws (it may even seem to stand 
behind the observer, or otherwise outside his visual field), but it will more 
or less conform — by my mere self-suggestion, if by nothing else — to 
optical laws ; and, moreover, it will still seem to be seen from a fixed point 
in space, namely, from the stationary observer's eyes or brain. 

All this seems fairly plain, so long as we are admittedly dealing with 
hallucinatory figures whose origin must be in the percipient's own mind. 
But so soon as we come to quasi-percepts which we believe to exist or to 
originate somewhere outside the percipient's mind, our difficulties come 
thick and fast. 

If there be some external origin for our inward vision (which thereby 
becomes veridical) we must not any longer assume that all veridical inward 
vision starts or is exercised from the same point. If it gets hold of facts 
(veridical impressions or pictures, not mere subjective fancies), we cannot 
be sure a priori whether it somehow goes to find the facts, or the facts 
come to find it. Again, we cannot any longer take for granted that it will 
be cognisant only of phantasmal or immaterial percepts. If it can get at 
phantasmal percepts outside the organism, may it not get at material 
percepts also ? May it not see distant houses, as well as the images of 
distant souls? 

Hazardous as these speculations may seem, they nevertheless represent 
an attempt to get our notions of supersensory things as near down to our 
notions of sensory things as we fairly can. Whatever may be our ulti- 
mate conception of an ideal world, we must not for the present attempt 
to start from any standpoint too far removed from the temporal and 
spatial existence which alone we know. 

As telepathy is a conception intermediate between the apparent iso- 
lation of minds here communicating only as a rule through material organs, 
and the ultimate conception of the unity of all mind, so the conception 
which I am about to propose, of a recognition of space without our con- 
comitant subjection to laws of matter, is strictly intermediate between 
man's incarnate condition and the condition which we may imagine him 
ultimately to attain. We cannot possibly infer a priori that all recogni- 
tion of space must needs disappear with the disappearance of the par- 
ticular bodily sensations by means of which our conception of space has 
been developed. But we can imagine that a spirit should be essentially 
independent of space, and yet capable of recognising it. 


Provisionally admitting this view, let us consider what range we are 
now led to assign to inner vision, when it is no longer merely subjective 
but veridical; bringing news to the percipient of actual fact outside his 
own organism. 

We infer that it may represent to us (1) material objects; or (2) sym- 
bols of immaterial things; (3) in ways not necessarily accordant with optical 
laws; and (4) from a point of view not necessarily located within the or- 
ganism, by means of what I have called a psychical excursion. I will 
take an illustration from a case which is recorded in detail in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. vii. p. 41 [666 C]. 

A Mrs. Wilmot has a vision of her husband in a cabin in a distant 
steamer. Besides her husband, she sees in the cabin a stranger (who 
was in fact present there), with certain material details. Now here I 
should say that Mrs. Wilmot's inner vision discerned material objects, 
from a point of view outside her own organism. But, on the other hand, 
although the perception came to her in visual terms, I do not suppose 
that it was really optical, that it came through the eye. 

Mrs. Wilmot might believe, say, that her husband's head concealed 
from her some part of the berth in which he lay; but this would not mean 
a real optical concealment, but only a special direction of her attention, 
guided by preconceived notions of what would be optically visible from 
a given point. 

As we proceed further we shall see, I think, in many ways how needful 
is this excursive theory to explain many telepathic and all telaesthetic 
experiences ; many, I mean, of the cases where two minds are in commu- 
nication, and all the cases where the percipient learns material facts (as 
words in a closed book, etc.) with which no other known mind is con- 

Another most important corollary of this excursive theory must just 
be mentioned here. If there be spiritual excursion to a particular point 
of space, it is conceivable that this should involve not only the migrant 
spirit's perception from that point, but also perception of that point by 
persons materially present near it. That point may become a phantas- 
mogenetic centre, as well as a centre of outlook. In plain words, if A has 
spiritually invaded B's room, and there sees B, B on his part may see A 
symbolically standing there ; and C and D if present may see A as well. 

This hint, here thrown out as an additional argument for the excursive 
theory, will fall to be developed later on. For the present we must confine 
our attention to our immediate subject: the range of man's inner vision, 
and the means which he must take to understand, to foster, and to control it. 


The first and simplest step in the control of inner vision is the repression 
by hypnotic suggestion of degenerative hallucinations. It is a noteworthy 
fact that such of these as are at all curable are much more often curable 
by hypnotism than in any other way. 

The next step is one to which, as the reader of my chapter on hypno- 
tism already knows, I attribute an importance much greater than is 
generally accorded to it. I refer to the hypnotiser's power not only of 
controlling but of inducing hallucinations in his subject. 

As I have already said, the evocation of hallucinations is commonly 
spoken of as a mere example of the subject's obedience to the hypnotiser. 
"I tell my subject to raise his arm, and he raises it; I tell him to see a tiger 
in the room, and he sees one accordingly." But manifestly these two 
incidents are not on the same level, and only appear to be so through a 
certain laxity of language. The usage of speech allows me to say, "I will 
make my subject lift his arm," although I am of course unable to affect 
the motor centres in his brain which start that motion. But it is so easy 
for a man to lift his arm that my speech takes that familiar power for 
.granted, and notes only his readiness to lift it when I tell him — the hyp- 
notic complaisance which prompts him to obey me if I suggest this trivial 
action. But when I say, "I will make him see a tiger," I take for granted 
a power on his part which is not familiar, which I have no longer a right to 
assume. For under ordinary circumstances my subject simply cannot see 
a tiger at will; nor can I affect the visual centres which might enable him 
to do so. All that I can ask him to do, therefore, is to choose this par- 
ticular way of indicating that in his hypnotic condition he has become able 
to stimulate his central sensory tracts more powerfully than ever before. 

And not only this. His hallucinations are in most cases elaborate 
products — complex images which must have needed intelligence to fashion 
them — although the process of their fashioning is hidden from our view. 
In this respect they resemble the inspirations of genius. For here we find 
again just what we found in those inspirations — the uprush of a complex 
intellectual product, performed beneath the threshold, and projected 
ready-made into ordinary consciousness. The uprushing stream of intel- 
ligence, indeed, in the man of genius flowed habitually in conformity with 
the superficial stream. Only rarely does the great conception intrude 
itself upon him with such vigour and such untimeliness as to bring con- 
fusion and incoherence into his ordinary life. But in the case of these 
induced hallucinations the incongruity between the two streams of intelli- 
gence is much more marked. When a subject, for instance, is trying to 
keep down some post-hypnotic hallucinatory suggestion, one can watch 


the smooth surface of the supraliminal river disturbed by that suggestion 
as though by jets of steam from below, which sometimes merely break in 
bubbles, but sometimes force themselves up bodily through the super- 
ficial film. 

It is by considering hallucinations in this generalised manner and 
among these analogies, that we can best realise their absence of necessary 
connection with any bodily degeneration or disease. Often, of course, 
they accompany disease; but that is only to say that the central sensory 
tracts, like any other part of the organism, are capable of morbid as well 
as of healthful stimulus. Taken in itself, the mere fact of the quasi- 
externalisation of a centrally initiated image indicates strong central 
stimulation, and absolutely nothing more. There is no physiological law 
whatever which can tell us what degree of vividness our central pictures 
may assume consistently with health — short of the point where they get 
to be so indistinguishable from external preceptions that, as in madness, 
they interfere with the rational conduct of life. That point no well-attested 
case of veridical hallucinations, so far as my knowledge goes, has yet 

It was, of course, natural that in the study of these phantasms, as else- 
where, the therapeutic interest should have preceded the psychological, 
but in the newer practical study of eugenics — the study which aims at 
improving the human organism, instead of merely conserving it — experi- 
mental psychology is indispensable, and one branch of this is the experi- 
mental study of mental visions. 

Let us consider whether, apart from such a rare and startling incident 
as an actual hallucination, there is any previous indication of a habit of 
receiving, or a power of summoning, pictures from a subliminal store- 
house? Any self-suggestion, conscious or unconscious, which places 
before the supraliminal intelligence visual images apparently matured 
elsewhere ? 

Such indications have not been wanting. In the chapter on Genius, 
and in the chapter on Sleep, we have traced the existence of many classes 
of these pictures; all of them ready, as it would seem, to manifest them- 
selves on slight inducement. Dream-figures will rise in any momentary 
blur of consciousness; inspirations will respond to the concentrated desire 
or the mere passing emotion of the man of genius; after-images will recur, 
under unknown conditions, long after the original stimulus has been with- 
drawn; memory-images will surge up into our minds with even unwished- 
f or vividness ; the brilliant exactness of illusions hypnagogiques will astonish 
us in the revealing transition from waking to sleep. 


All is prepared, so to say, for some empirical short-cut to a fuller control of 
these subjacent pictures ; just as before Mesmer and Puysegur all was pre- 
pared for an empirical short-cut to trance, somnambulism, suggestibility. 

All that we want is to hit on some simple empirical way of bringing 
out the correlation between all these types of sub acent vision, just as 
mesmerism was a simple empirical way of bringing out the correlation 
between various trances and sleep-waking states. 

Crystal-vision, then, like hypnotic trance, might have been gradually 
evolved by a series of reasoned experiments, along an unexceptionable 
scientific road. 

In reality, of course, this prehistoric practice must have been reached 
in some quite different way. It does not fall within the scope of this book 
to trace the various streams of divination which converge into Dr. Dee's 
magic, and "the attracting of spirits into the ball." But it is really to the 
Elizabethan Dr. Dee — one of the leading savants of his time — that the 
credit must be given of the first systematic attempt to describe, analyse, 
and utilise these externalised pictures. 1 

I will describe briefly the general type of the experiment, and we shall 
see how near we can get to a psychological explanation. 

Let the observer gaze, steadily but not fatiguingly, into some speculum, 
or clear depth, so arranged as to return as little reflection as possible. A 
good example of what is meant will be a glass ball enveloped in a black 
shawl, or placed in the back part of a half-opened drawer; so arranged, 
in short, that the observer can gaze into it with as little distraction as may 
be from the reflection of his own face or of surrounding objects. After 
he has tried (say) three or four times, for ten minutes or so at a time — 
preferably in solitude, and in a state of mental passivity — he will perhaps 
begin to see the glass ball or crystal clouding, or to see some figure or picture 
apparently in the ball. Perhaps one man or woman in twenty will have 
some slight occasional experience of this kind; and perhaps one in twenty 
of these seers (the percentages must as yet be mainly guess-work) will 
be able by practice to develop this faculty of inward vision up to a point 
where it will sometimes convey to him information not attainable by 
ordinary means. 

How comes it, in the first place, that he sees any figure in the crystal 
at all? Common hypnotic experiments supply two obvious answers, 
each of which no doubt explains some part of the phenomena. 

1 For prehistoric and historic crystal-gazing see Mr. Andrew Lang's Making of 
Religion, and Miss Goodrich-Freer's "Recent Experiments in Crystal-Vision," Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 486 [620 A]. 


In the first place, we know that the hypnotic trance is often induced 
by gazing at some small bright object. This may or may not be a mere 
effect of suggestion; but it certainly sometimes occurs, and the "server" 
consequently may be partially hypnotised, and in a state which facilitates 

In the second place, a hypnotised subject — hypnotised but in a fully 
alert state — can often be caused by suggestion to see (say) a portrait 
upon a blank card; and will continue to see that portrait on that card, 
after the card has been shuffled with others ; thus showing that he discerns 
with unusual acuteness such points de repere, or little guiding marks, as 
may exist on the surface of even an apparently blank card. 

Correspondently with the first of these observations, we find that crystal- 
vision is sometimes accompanied by a state of partial hypnotisation, perhaps 
merging into trance. This has been the case with various French hysterical 
subjects; and not only with them but with that exceptionally sound and 
vigorous observer, Mr. J. G. Keulemans. His evidence (in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 516-521) is just what one would have expected a 
priori on such a matter. 

Correspondently with the second of the above observations, we find 
that points de repbre do occasionally seem to determine crystal visions. 

This, again, has been noticed among the French hysterical subjects; 
and not only with them, but with another among our best observers, Mrs. 

These things being so — both these causes being apparently operative 
along the whole series of "servers," or crystal-gazers, from the most un- 
stable to the most scientific — one might be tempted to assume that these 
two clues, if we could follow them far enough, would explain the whole 
group of phenomena. Persons who have not seen the phenomena, indeed, 
can hardly be persuaded to the contrary. But the real fact is, as even 
those who have seen much less of crystal-gazing than I have will very 
well know, that these explanations cannot be stretched to cover a quarter 
— perhaps not even a tenth — of the phenomena which actually occur. 

Judging both from the testimony of scryers themselves, and from the 
observations of Dr. Hodgson and others (myself included), who have 
had many opportunities of watching them, it is very seldom that the gaze 
into the glass ball induces any hypnotic symptoms whatever. It does 
not induce such symptoms with successful scryers any more than with 
unsuccessful. Furthermore, there is no proof that the gift of crystal- 
vision goes along with hypnotic sensibility. The most that one can say 
is that the gift often goes along with telepathic sensibility; but although 


telepathic sensibility may sometimes be quickened by hypnotism, we have 
no proof that those two forms of sensitiveness habitually go together. 

The ordinary attitude of the scryer, I repeat, is one of complete detach- 
ment ; an interested and often puzzled scrutiny and analysis of the figures 
which display themselves in swift or slow succession in the crystal ball. 

This last sentence applies to the theory of points de repbre as well. As 
a general rule, the crystal vision, however meaningless and fantastic, is a 
thing which changes and develops somewhat as a dream does ; following, 
it may be, some trivial chain of associations, but not maintaining, any 
more than a dream maintains, any continuous scheme of line or colour. 
At the most, the scraps of reflection in the crystal could only start such a 
series of pictures as this. And the start, the initiation of one of these 
series, is often accompanied by an odd phenomenon mentioned above 
— a milky clouding of the crystal, which obscures any fragments of reflected 
images, and from out of which the images of the vision gradually grow 
clear. I cannot explain this clouding. It occurs too often and too inde- 
pendently to be a mere effect of suggestion. It does not seem to depend 
on any optical condition — to be, for instance, a result of change of focus 
of the eye, or of prolonged gazing. It is a picture like other pictures; it 
may come when the eyes are quite fresh (nor ought they ever to be strained) ; 
and it may persist for some time, so that the scryer looks away and back 
again, and sees it still. It comes at the beginning of a first series of pictures, 
or as a kind of drop scene between one series of pictures and another. 
Its closest parallel, perhaps, is the mist or cloud out of which phantasmal 
figures, "out in the room," sometimes seem to form themselves. 

Moreover, the connection, if one can so call it, between the crystal 
and the vision is a very variable one. Sometimes the figures seem clearly 
defined within the crystal and limited thereby; sometimes all perception 
of the crystal or other speculum disappears, and the scryer seems clair- 
voyantly introduced into some group of life-sized figures. Nay, further, 
when the habit of gazing is fully acquired, some scryers can dispense with 
any speculum whatever, and can see pictures in mere blackness; thus 
approximating to the seers of "faces in the dark," or of illusions hyp- 

On the whole it seems safest to attempt at present no further explana- 
tion of crystal-gazing than to say that it is an empirical method of develop- 
ing internal vision; of externalising pictures which are associated with 
changes in the sensorial tracts of the brain, due partly to internal stimuli, 
and partly to stimuli which may come from minds external to the server's 
own. The hallucinations thus induced appear to be absolutely harmless. 


I at least know of no kind of injury resulting from them; and I have prob- 
ably heard of most of the experiments made in England, with any scientific 
aim or care, during the somewhat limited revival of crystal-gazing which 
has proceeded for the last few years. 

The crystal picture is what we must call (for want of knowledge of 
determining causes) a random glimpse into inner vision, a reflection caught 
at some odd angle from the universe as it shines through the perturbing 
medium of that special soul. Normal and supernormal knowledge and 
imaginings are blended in strangely mingled rays. Memory, dream, 
telepathy, telaesthesia, retrocognition, precognition, all are there. Nay, 
there are indications of spiritual communications and of a kind of ecstasy. 1 

We cannot pursue all these phenomena at once. In turning, as we 
must now turn, to the spontaneous cases of sensory automatism — of 
every type of which the induced visions of the crystal afford us a foretaste 
— we must needs single out first some fundamental phenomenon, illustra- 
ting some principle from which the rarer or more complex phenomena 
may be in part at least derived. Nor will there be difficulty in such a 
choice. Theory and actual experience point here in the same direction. 
If this inward vision, this inward audition, on whose importance I have 
been insisting, are to have any such importance — if they are to have any 
validity at all — if their contents are to represent anything more than 
dream or meditation — they must receive knowledge from other minds 
or from distant objects ; — knowledge which is not received by the external 
organs of sense. Communication must exist from the subliminal to the 
subliminal as well as from the supraliminal to the supraliminal parts of 
the being of different individual men. Telepathy, in short, must be the 
prerequisite of all these supernormal phenomena. 

Actual experience, as we shall presently see, confirms this view of the 
place of telepathy. For when we pass from the induced to the sponta- 
neous phenomena we shall find that these illustrate before all else this 
transmission of thought and emotion directly from mind to mind. 

Now as to telepathy, there is in the first place this to be said, that such 
a faculty must absolutely exist somewhere in the universe, if the universe 
contains any unembodied intelligences at all. If there be any life less 
rooted in flesh than ours — any life more spiritual (as men have supposed 
that a higher life would be), then either it must not be social life — there 
can be no exchange of thought in it at all — or else there must exist some 

1 It is right also to state, although I cannot here discuss the problems involved, 
that I believe these visions to be sometimes seen by more than one person, simulta- 
neously or successively. 


method of exchanging thought which does not depend upon either tongue 
or brain. 

Thus much, one may say, has been evident since man first speculated 
on such subjects at all. But the advance of knowledge has added a new 
presumption — it can be no more than a presumption — to all such cosmic 
speculations. I mean the presumption of continuity. Learning how 
close a tie in reality unites man with inferior lives, — once treated as some- 
thing wholly alien, impassably separated from the human race — we are 
led to conceive that a close tie may unite him also with superior lives, — 
that the series may be fundamentally unbroken, the essential qualities of 
life the same throughout. It used to be asked whether man was akin 
to the ape or to the angel. I reply that the very fact of his kinship with 
the ape is proof presumptive of his kinship with the angel. 

It is natural enough that man's instinctive feeling should have antici- 
pated any argument of this speculative type. Men have in most ages 
believed, and do still widely believe, in the reality of prayer; that is, in the 
possibility of telepathic communication between our human minds and 
minds above our own, which are supposed not only to understand our 
wish or aspiration, but to impress or influence us inwardly in return. 

So widely spread has been this belief in prayer that it is somewhat 
strange that men should not have more commonly made what seems the 
natural deduction — namely, that if our spirits can communicate with 
higher spirits in a way transcending sense, they may also perhaps be able 
in like manner to communicate with each other. The idea, indeed, has 
been thrown out at intervals by leading thinkers — from Augustine to 
Bacon, from Bacon to Goethe, from Goethe to Tennyson. 

Isolated experiments from time to time indicated its practical truth. 
Yet it is only within the last few years that the vague and floating notion 
has been developed into definite theory by systematic experiment. 

To make such experiment possible has indeed been no easy matter. 
It has been needful to elicit and to isolate from the complex emotions 
and interactions of common life a certain psychical element of whose 
nature and working we have beforehand but a very obscure idea. 

If indeed we possessed any certain method of detecting the action of 
telepathy, — of distinguishing it from chance coincidence or from uncon- 
scious suggestion, — we should probably find that its action was widely 
diffused and mingled with other more commonplace causes in many in- 
cidents of life. We should find telepathy, perhaps, at the base of many 
sympathies and antipathies, of many wide communities of feeling; oper- 
ating, it may be, in cases as different as the quasi-recognition of some 


friend in a stranger seen at a distance just before the friend himself 
unexpectedly appears, and the Pheme or Rumour which in Hindostan 
or in ancient Greece is said to have often spread far an inexplicable 
knowledge of victory or disaster. 

But we are obliged, for the sake of clearness of evidence, to set aside, 
when dealing with experimentation, all these mixed emotional cases, and 
to start from telepathic communications intentionally planned to be so 
trivial, so devoid of associations or emotions, that it shall be impossible 
to refer them to any common memory or sympathy; to anything save a 
direct transmission of idea, or impulse, or sensation, or image, from one 
to another mind. 

The reader who has studied the evidence originally set forth in Chap- 
ters II. and III. of Phantasms of the Living will, I trust, carry away a 
pretty clear notion of what can at present actually be done in the way of 
experimental transferences of small definite ideas or pictures from one or 
more persons — the "agent'' or "agents" — to one or more persons — 
the "percipient" or "percipients." 1 In these experiments actual contact 
has been forbidden, to avoid the risk of unconscious indications by pressure. 
It is at present still doubtful how far close proximity really operates in aid 
of telepathy, or how far its advantage is a mere effect of self-suggestion — 
on the part either of agent or of percipient. Some few pairs of experi- 
menters have obtained results of just the same type at distances of half 
a mile or more. 2 Similarly, in the case of induction of hypnotic trance, 
Dr. Gibert attained at the distance of nearly a mile results which are usually 
supposed to require close and actual presence. [See Appendix V. C] 

We must clearly realise that in telepathic experiment we encounter 
just the same difficulty which makes our results in hypnotic therapeutics 

1 See also Proceedings S.P.R., vol. i. pp. 263-283; vol. ii. pp. 1-5, 24-42, 189-200; 
vol. iii. pp. 424-452, where a full record will be found of Mr. Malcolm Guthrie's experi- 
ments [630 B]. Also Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 2-17 [630 C], for Mr. Henry G. 
Rawson's experiments. Others are recorded in the Proceedings S.P.R., vol. i. pp. 
161-167 and 174-215. See also those of Herr Max Dessoir (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. 
p. in, and vol. v. p. 355); Herr Anton Schmoll and M. Etienne Mabire (ibid. vol. iv. p. 
324 and vol. v. p. 169) ; Mr. J. W. Smith (ibid. vol. ii. p. 207) ; Sir Oliver Lodge (ibid. vol. 
vii. p. 374); Dr. A. Blair Thaw (ibid. vol. viii. p. 422); Dr. von Schrenck-Notzing (ibid. 
vol. vii. p. 3); Professor Richet (ibid. vol. v. p. 18). See also Phantasms of the Living, 
vol. i. pp. 32-34, and vol. ii. pp. 653-654. Also the experiments of Professor and 
Mrs. Sidgwick (Proceedings, vol. vi. and vol. viii.) already referred to in Chapter V. 

2 See Mr. F. Podmore's Apparitions and Thought-transference, Chapter V. [630 
D, etc.]; also Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 455 [630 F]; and Journal S.P.R., vol. vii. 
PP- 3 2 S-3 2 9 [ 6 3° E]; ibid. pp. 234-237, pp. 299-306 and pp. 311-319; and vol. 
xii. p. 223 (March 1906). 


so unpredictable and irregular. We do not know how to get our sugges- 
tions to take hold of the subliminal self. They are liable to fail for two 
main reasons. Either they somehow never reach the subliminal centres 
which we wish to affect, or they find those centres preoccupied with some 
self-suggestion hostile to our behest. This source of uncertainty can only 
be removed by a far greater number of experiments than have yet been 
made — experiments repeated until we have oftener struck upon the happy 
veins which make up for an immense amount of sterile exploration. Mean- 
time we must record, but can hardly interpret. Yet there is one provi- 
sional interpretation of telepathic experiment which must be noticed thus 
early in our discussion, because, if true, it may conceivably connect our 
groping work with more advanced departments of science, while, if seen 
to be inadequate, it may bid us turn our inquiry in some other direction. 
I refer to the suggestion that telepathy is propagated by " brain- waves " ; 
or, as Sir W. Crookes has more exactly expressed it, by ether-waves of 
even smaller amplitude and greater frequency than those which carry the 
X rays. These waves are conceived as passing from one brain to another, 
and arousing in the second brain an excitation or image similar to the 
excitation or image from which they start in the first. The hypothesis 
is an attractive one; because it fits an agency which certainly exists, but 
whose effect is unknown, to an effect which certainly exists, but whose 
agency is unknown. 

In this world of vibrations it may seem at first the simplest plan to 
invoke a vibration the more. It would be rash, indeed, to affirm that any 
phenomenon perceptible by men may not be expressible, in part at least, 
in terms of ethereal undulations. But in the case of telepathy the analogy 
which suggests this explanation, the obvious likeness between the picture 
emitted (so to say) by the agent and the picture received by the percipient 
— as when I fix my mind on the two of diamonds, and he sees a mental 
picture of that card — goes but a very short way. One has very soon 
to begin assuming that the percipient's mind modifies the picture despatched 
from the agent: until the likeness between the two pictures becomes a 
quite symbolical affair. We have seen that there is a continuous transi- 
tion from experimental to spontaneous telepathy; from our transferred 
pictures of cards to monitions of a friend's death at a distance. These 
monitions may indeed be pictures of the dying friend, but they are seldom 
such pictures as the decedent's brain seems likely to project in the form in 
which they reach the percipient. Mr. L. — to take a well-known case 
in our collection {Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 210) — dies of heart 
disease when in the act of lying down undressed, in bed. At or about 


the same moment Mr. N. J. S. sees Mr. L. standing beside him with a 
cheerful air, dressed for walking and with a cane in his hand. One does 
not see how a system of undulations could have transmuted the physical 
facts in this way. 

A still greater difficulty for the vibration-theory is presented by col- 
lective telepathic hallucinations. It is hard to understand how A can 
emit a pattern of vibrations which, radiating equally in all directions, shall 
affect not only his distant friend B, but also the strangers C and D, who 
happen to be standing near B ; — and affect no other persons, so far as 
we know, in the world. 

The above points have been fair matter of argument almost since our 
research began. But as our evidence has developed, our conception of 
telepathy has needed to be more and more generalised in other and new 
directions, — still less compatible with the vibration theory. Three such 
directions may be briefly specified here — namely, the relation of telepathy 
(a) to telaesthesia or clairvoyance, (b) to time, and (c) to disembodied 
spirits, (a) It is increasingly hard to refer all the scenes of which per- 
cipients become aware to the action of any given mind which is perceiving 
those distant scenes. This is especially noticeable in crystal-gazing ex- 
periments, (b) And these crystal visions also show what, from the strict 
telepathic point of view, we should call a great laxity of time relations. 
The scryer chooses his own time to look in the ball; — and though some- 
times he sees events which are taking place at the moment, he may also 
see past events, — and even, as it seems, future events. I at least cannot 
deny precognition, nor can I draw a definite line amid these complex 
visions which may separate precognition from telepathy (see Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 408-593). (c) Precognition itself may be explained, 
if you will, as telepathy from disembodied spirits; — and this would 
at any rate bring it under a class of phenomena which I think all students 
of our subject must before long admit. Admitting here, for argument's 
sake, that we do receive communications from the dead which we should 
term telepathic if we received them from the living, it is of course open 
to us to conjecture that these messages also are conveyed on ether-waves. 
But since those waves do not at any rate emanate from material brains, 
we shall by this time have got so far from the original brain-wave 
hypothesis that few will care still to defend it. 

I doubt, indeed, whether we can safely say of telepathy anything more 
definite than this: Life has the power of manifesting itself to life. The 
laws of life, as we have thus far known them, have been only laws of life 
when already associated with matter. Thus limited, we have learnt little 


as to Life's true nature. We know not even whether Life be only a direc- 
tive Force, or, on the other hand, an effective Energy. We know not in 
what way it operates on matter. We can in no way define the connection 
between our own consciousness and our organisms. Just here it is, I 
should say, that telepathic observations ought to supply us with some 
hint. From the mode in which some element of one individual life, — 
apart from material impact, — gets hold of another organism, we may 
in time learn something of the way in which our own life gets hold of our 
own organism, — and maintains, intermits, or abandons its organic sway. 1 

The hypothesis which I suggested in Phantasms of the Living itself, 
in my "Note on a possible mode of psychical interaction," seems to me 
to have been rendered increasingly plausible by evidence of many kinds 
since received; evidence of which the larger part falls outside the limits 
of this present work. I still believe — and more confidently than in 1886 
— that a "psychical invasion" does take place; that a " phantasmogenetic 
centre" is actually established in the percipient's surroundings; that some 
movement bearing some relation to space as we know it is actually accom- 
plished; and some presence is transferred, and may or may not be dis- 
cerned by the invaded person; some perception of the distant scene in 
itself is acquired, and may or may not be remembered by the invader. 

But the words which I am here beginning to use carry with them asso- 
ciations from which the scientific reader may well shrink. Fully realising 
the offence which such expressions may give, I see no better line of excuse 
than simply to recount the way in which the gradual accretion of evidence 
has obliged me, for the mere sake of covering all the phenomena, to use 
phrases and assumptions which go far beyond those which Edmund 
Gurney and I employed in our first papers on this inquiry in 1883. 

When in 1882 our small group began the collection of evidence bearing 
upon "veridical hallucinations" — or apparitions which coincided with 
other events in such a way as to suggest a causal connection — we found 
scattered among the cases from the first certain types which were with 
difficulty reducible under the conception of telepathy pure and simple — 
even if such a conception could be distinctly formed. Sometimes the ap- 
parition was seen by more than one percipient at once — a result which 
we could hardly have expected if all that had passed were the transference 
of an impression from the agent's mind to another mind, which then bodied 

1 It is plain that on this view there is no theoretical reason for limiting telepathy to 
human beings. For aught we can say, the impulse may pass between man and the 
lower animals, or between the lower animals themselves. See Journal S.P.R., vol. xi. 
pp. 278-290 and pp. 323-4; the same, vol. xii. pp. 21-3; the same, vol. iv. p. 289; 
and Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiv. p. 285. 


forth that impression in externalised shape according to laws of its own 
structure. There were instances, too, where the percipient seemed to be 
the agent also — in so far that it was he who had an impression of having 
somehow visited and noted a distant scene, whose occupant was not neces- 
sarily conscious of any immediate relation with him. Or sometimes 
this "telepathic clairvoyance" developed into "reciprocity," and each 
of the two persons concerned was conscious of the other; — the scene of 
their encounter being the same in the vision of each, or at least the expe- 
rience being in some way common to both. These and cognate difficulties 
were present to my mind from the first; and in the above-mentioned " Note 
on a suggested mode of psychical interaction," included in vol. ii. of Phan- 
tasms of the Living, I indicated briefly the extension of the telepathic 
theory to which they seemed to me to point. 

Meantime cases of certain other definite types continued to come steadily 
to hand, although in lesser numbers than the cases of apparition at death. 
To mention two important types only — there were apparitions of the so- 
called dead, and there were cases of precognition. With regard to each 
of these classes, it seemed reasonable to defer belief until time should have 
shown whether the influx of first-hand cases was likely to be permanent; 
whether independent witnesses continued to testify to incidents which 
could be better explained on these hypotheses than on any other. Before 
Edmund Gurney's death in 1888 our cases of apparitions and other mani- 
festations of the dead had reached a degree of weight and consistency 
which, as his last paper showed, was beginning to convince him of their 
veridical character; and since that date these have been much further 
increased; and especially have drawn from Mrs. Piper's and other trance- 
phenomena an unexpected enlargement and corroboration. The evidence 
for communication from the departed is now in my personal estimate 
quite as strong as that for telepathic communication between the living; 
and it is moreover evidence which inevitably alters and widens our con- 
ception of telepathy between living men. 

The evidence for precognition, again, was from the first scantier, and 
has advanced at a slower rate. It has increased steadily enough to lead 
me to feel confident that it will have to be seriously reckoned with; but I 
cannot yet say — as I do say with reference to the evidence for messages 
from the departed — that almost every one who accepts our evidence for 
telepathy at all, must ultimately accept this evidence also. It must run 
on at any rate for some years longer before it shall have accreted a con- 
vincing weight. 

But at whatever point one or another inquirer may happen at present 


to stand, I urge that this is the reasonable course for conviction to follow. 
First analyse the miscellaneous stream of evidence into definite types; 
then observe the frequency with which these types recur, and let your 
sense of their importance gradually grow, if the evidence grows also. 

Now this mode of procedure evidently excludes all definite a priori 
views, and compels one's conceptions to be little more than the mere 
grouping to which the facts thus far known have to be subjected in 
order that they may be realised in their ensemble. 

"What definite reason do I know why this should not be true?" — 
this is the question which needs to be pushed home again and again if 
one is to realise — and not in the ordinary paths of scientific speculation 
alone — how profound our ignorance of the Universe really is. 

My own ignorance, at any rate, I recognise to be such that my notions 
of the probable or improbable in the Universe are not of weight enough 
to lead me to set aside any facts which seem to me well attested, and which 
are not shown by experts actually to conflict with any better-established 
facts or generalisations. Wide though the range of established science 
may be, it represents, as its most far-sighted prophets are the first to admit, 
a narrow glance only into the unknown and infinite realm of law. 

The evidence, then, leading me thus unresisting along, has led me 
to this main difference from our early treatment of veridical phantasms. 
Instead of starting from a root-conception of a telepathic impulse merely 
passing from mind to mind, I now start from a root-conception of the 
dissociability of the self, of the possibility that different fractions of the 
personality can act so far independently of each other that the one is not 
conscious of the other's action. 

Naturally the two conceptions coincide over much of the ground. 
Where experimental thought-transference is concerned — even where 
the commoner types of coincidental phantasms are concerned — the second 
formula seems a needless and unprovable variation on the first. But as 
soon as we get among the difficult types — reciprocal cases, clairvoyant 
cases, collective cases, above all, manifestations of the dead — we find 
that the conception of a telepathic impulse as a message despatched and 
then left alone, as it were, to effect its purpose needs more and more of 
straining, of manipulation, to fit it to the evidence. On the other hand, 
it is just in those difficult regions that the analogies of other splits of per- 
sonality recur, and that phantasmal or automatic behaviour recalls to us 
the behaviour of segments of personality detached from primary person- 
ality, but operating through the organism which is common to both. 

The innovation which we are here called upon to make is to suppose 


that segments of the personality can operate in apparent separation from 
the organism. Such a supposition, of course, could not have been started 
without proof of telepathy, and could with difficulty be sustained without 
proof of survival of death. But, given telepathy, we have some psychical 
agency connected with man operating apart from his organism. Given 
survival, we have an element of his personality — to say the least of it — 
operating when his organism is destroyed. There is therefore no very 
great additional burden in supposing that an element of his personality 
may operate apart from his organism, while that organism still exists. 

Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coHte. If we have once got a man's 
thought operating apart from his body — if my fixation of attention on the 
two of diamonds does somehow so modify another man's brain a few yards 
off that he seems to see the two of diamonds floating before him — there 
is no obvious halting-place on his side till we come to "possession" by a 
departed spirit, and there is no obvious halting-place on my side till we 
come to "travelling clairvoyance," with a corresponding visibility of my 
own phantasm to other persons in the scenes which I spiritually visit. 
No obvious halting-place, I say; for the point which at first seems abruptly 
transitional has been already shown to be only the critical point of a con- 
tinuous curve. I mean, of course, the point where consciousness is dupli- 
cated — where each segment of the personality begins to possess a separate 
and definite, but contemporaneous stream of memory and perception. 
That these can exist concurrently in the same organism our study of hyp- 
notism has already shown, and our study of motor automatisms will still 
further prove to us. 

Dissociation of personality, combined with activity in the metetherial 
environment; such, in the phraseology used in this book, will be the formula 
which will most easily cover those actually observed facts of veridical 
apparition on which we must now enter at considerable length. And 
after this preliminary explanation I shall ask leave to use for clearness in my 
argument such words as are simplest and shortest, however- vague or dis- 
putable their connotation may be. I must needs, for instance, use the 
word "spirit," when I speak of that unknown fraction of a man's per- 
sonality — not the supraliminal fraction — which we discern as operating 
before or after death in the metetherial environment. For this conception 
I can find no other term, but by the word spirit I wish to imply nothing 
more definite than this. Of the spirit's relation to space, or (which is a 
part of the same problem) to its own spatial manifestation in definite form, 
something has already been said, and there will be more to say hereafter. 
And similarly those terms, invader or invaded, from whose strangeness and 


barbarity our immediate discussion began, will depend for their meaning 
upon conceptions which the evidence itself must gradually supply. 

That evidence, as it now lies before us, is perplexingly various both 
in content and quality. For some of the canons needed in its analysis 
I have already referred the reader to extracts from Edmund Gurney's 
writings. Certain points must still be mentioned here before the narra- 
tive begins. 

It must be remembered, in the first place, that all these veridical or 
coincidental cases stand out together as a single group from a background 
of hallucinations which involve no coincidence, which have no claim to 
veridicality. If purely subjective hallucinations of the senses affected 
insane or disordered brains alone, — as was pretty generally the assump- 
tion, even in scientific circles, when our inquiry began, — our task would 
have been much easier than it is. But while there can be no question 
as to the sound and healthy condition of the great majority of our per- 
cipients, Edmund Gurney's "Census of Hallucinations" of 1884, confirmed 
and extended by the wider inquiry of 1889-189 2, showed a frequency, 
previously unsuspected, of scattered hallucinations among sane and 
healthy persons, the experience being often unique in a lifetime, and 
in no apparent connection with any other circumstance whatever. 1 

Since casual hallucinations of the sane, then, are thus frequent, we can 
hardly venture to assume that they are all veridical. And the existence of 
all these perhaps merely subjective hallucinations greatly complicates our 
investigation of veridical hallucinations. It prevents the mere existence 
of the hallucinations, however strangely interposed in ordinary life, from 
having any evidential value, and throws us upon evidence afforded by 
external coincidence; — on the mere fact, to put such a coincidence in its 
simplest form, that I see a phantom of my friend Smith at the moment 
when Smith is unexpectedly dying at a distance. A coincidence of this 
general type, if it occurs, need not be difficult to substantiate, and we have 
in fact substantiated it with more or less completeness in several hundred 

The primd facie conclusion will obviously be that there is a causal 
connection between the death and the apparition. To overcome this 
presumption it would be necessary either to impugn the accuracy of the 
informant's testimony, or to show that chance alone might have brought 
about the observed coincidences. 

On both of these questions there have been full and repeated discus- 
sions elsewhere. I need not re-argue them at length here, but will refer 
1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. pp. 25-422. 


the reader to the " Report on the Census of Hallucinations," Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. x., where every source of error as yet discovered has been 
pretty fully considered. 

To that volume also I must refer him for a thorough discussion of the 
arguments for and against chance-coincidence. The conclusion to which 
the Committee unanimously came is expressed in the closing words: 
" Between deaths and apparitions of the dying person a connection exists 
which is not due to chance alone." 

We have a right, I think, to say that only by another census of hallu- 
cinations, equally careful, more extensive, and yielding absolutely 
different results, could this conclusion be overthrown. 

In forming this conclusion, apparitions at death are of course selected, 
because, death being an unique event in man's earthly existence, the 
coincidences between death and apparitions afford a favourable case for 
statistical treatment. But the coincidences between apparitions and 
crises other than death, although not susceptible of the same arithmetical 
precision of estimate, are, as will be seen, quite equally convincing. To 
this great mass of spontaneous cases we must now turn. 

The arrangement of these cases is not easy; nor are they capable of 
being presented in one logically consequent series. 

But the conception of psychical invasion or excursion on which I 
have already dwelt has at any rate this advantage, that it is sufficiently 
fundamental to allow of our arrangement of all our recorded cases — 
perhaps of all possible cases of apparition — in accordance with its own 

Our scheme will include all observable telepathic action, from the 
faint currents which we may imagine to be continually passing between 
man and man, up to the point — reserved for the following chapter — 
where one of the parties to the telepathic intercourse has definitely quitted 
the flesh. The first term in our series must be conveniently vague: the 
last must lead us to the threshold of the spiritual world. 

I must begin with cases where the action of the excursive fragment 
of the personality is of the weakest kind — the least capable of affecting 
other observers, or of being recalled into the agent's own waking memory. 

Such cases, naturally enough, will be hard to bring up to evidential 
level. It must depend on mere chance whether these weak and aimless 
psychical excursions are observed at all; or are observed in such a way as 
to lead us to attribute them to anything more than the subjective fancy of 
the observers. 

How can a casual vision — say, of a lady sitting in her drawing-room, 


— of a man returning home at six o'clock — be distinguished from memory- 
images on the one hand and from what I may term "expectation-images" 
on the other? The picture of the lady may be a slightly modified and 
externalised reminiscence; the picture of the man walking up to the door 
may be a mere projection of what the observer was hoping to see. 

I have assumed that these phantoms coincided with no marked event. 
The lady may have been thinking of going to her drawing-room; the man 
may have been in the act of walking home; — but these are trivial 
circumstances which might be repeated any day. 

Yet, however trivial, almost any set of human circumstances are suffi- 
ciently complex to leave room for coincidence. If the sitter in the 
drawing-room is wearing a distinctive article of dress, never seen by the 
percipient until it is seen in the hallucination; — if the phantasmal home- 
ward traveller is carrying a parcel of unusual shape, which the real man 
does afterwards unexpectedly bring home with him; — there may be 
reason to think that there is a causal connection between the apparent 
agent's condition at the moment, and the apparition. 

In Appendix VI. A, I quote one of these "arrival-cases," so to term 
them, where the peculiarity of dress was such as to make the coincidence 
between vision and reality well worth attention. The case is interesting 
also as one of our earliest examples of a psychical incident carefully re- 
corded at the time; so that after the lapse of nearly forty years it was possible 
to correct the percipient's surviving recollection by his contemporary 
written statement. 

In these arrival cases, there is, I say, a certain likelihood that the man's 
mind may be fixed on his return home, so that his phantasm is seen in 
what might seem both to himself and to others the most probable place. 1 
But there are other cases where a man's phantasm is seen in a place 
where there is no special reason for his appearing, although these places 
seem always to lie within the beat and circuit of his habitual thought. 

In such cases there are still possible circumstances which may give 
reason to think that the apparition is causally connected with the apparent 
agent. The phantasm of a given person may be seen repeatedly by different 
percipients, or it may be seen collectively by several persons at a time; 
or it may combine both these evidential characteristics, and may be seen 
several times and by several persons together. 

Now considering the rarity of phantasmal appearances, considering 
that not one person in (say) five thousand is ever phantasmally seen at all; 
the mere fact that a given person's phantasm is seen even twice, by different 

1 See also Phantasms of the Living vol. ii. p. 96 [§ 653], and for an auditory 
case, ibid. p. 100 [§ 655]. 


percipients (for we cannot count a second appearance to the same per- 
cipient as of equal value), is in itself a remarkable fact; while if this happens 
three or jour times (as in the case of Mrs. Hawkins) 1 we can hardly ascribe 
such a sequence of rare occurrences to chance alone. 

Again, impressive as is the repetition of the apparition in these cases, 
it is yet less so to my mind than the collective character of some of the per- 
ceptions. In Mrs. Hawkins's first case there were two simultaneous 
percipients, and in Canon Bourne's first case (given in Appendix VI. B) 
there were three. 

And we now come to other cases, where the percipience has been col- 
lective, although it has not been repeated. There is a case 2 where two 
persons at one moment — a moment of no stress or excitement whatever 

— see the phantasm of a third; that third person being perhaps occupied 
with some supraliminal or subliminal thought of the scene in the midst 
of which she is phantasmally discerned. Both the percipients supposed 
at the moment that it was their actual sister whom they saw; and one can 
hardly fancy that a mere act of tranquil recognition of the figure by one 
percipient would communicate to the other percipient a telepathic shock 
such as would make her see the same figure as well. 

The question of the true import of collectivity of percipience renews 
in another form that problem of invasion to which our evidence so often 
brings us back. When two or three persons see what seems to be the 
same phantom in the same place and at the same time, does that mean 
that that special part of space is somehow modified ? or does it mean that 
a mental impression, conveyed by the distant agent — the phantom- 
begetter — to one of the percipients is reflected telepathically from that 
percipient's mind to the minds of the other — as it were secondary 

— percipients? The reader already knows that I prefer the former 
of these views. And I observe — as telling against that other view, 
of psychical contagion — that in certain collective cases we discern no 
probable link between any one of the percipient minds and the distant 

In some of that group of collective cases which we are at this moment 
considering, this absence of link is noticeable in a special way. There is 
nothing to show that any thought or emotion was passing from agent to 
percipients at the moment of the apparition. On the contrary, the 

1 Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 78 [§ 645]. See also op. cit., p. 82 et seq. 

2 Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. p. 306 [§ 646]. See also the case in Phantasms of 
the Living (vol. ii. p. 217) [§ 647], where an apparition was seen by its original and 
by others at the same time. 


indication is that there is no necessary connection whatever between the 
agent's condition of mind at the moment and the fact that such and such 
persons observed his phantasm. The projection of the phantasm, if I may 
so term it, seems a matter wholly automatic on the agent's part, as auto- 
matic and meaningless as a dream. 

Assuming, then, that this is so — that these bilocations or self-projec- 
tions to a point apparently remote from one's body do occur without any 
appreciable stimulus from without, and in moments of apparent calm 
and indifference — in what way will this fact tend to modify previous 
conceptions ? 

It suggests that the continuous dream-life which we must suppose to 
run concurrently with our waking life is potent enough to effect from time 
to time enough of dissociation to enable some element of the personality 
to be perceived at a distance from the organism. How much of conscious- 
ness, if any, may be felt at the point where the excursive phantasm is seen, 
we cannot say. But the notion that a mere incoherent quasi-dream should 
thus become perceptible to others is fully in accordance with the theories 
suggested in this work. For I regard subliminal operation as continuously 
going on, and I hold that the degree of dissociation which can generate a 
perceptible phantasm is not necessarily a profound change, since that 
perceptibility depends so largely upon idiosyncrasies of agent and per- 
cipient as yet wholly unexplained. 

That special idiosyncracy on the part of the agent which tends to make 
his phantasm easily visible has never yet, so far as I know, received a 
name, although for convenience' sake it certainly needs one. I propose to 
use the Greek word xf/vxoppayS), which means strictly "to let the soul break 
loose," and from which I form the words psychorrhagy and psychorrhagic, 
on obvious analogies. When I say that the agents in these cases were 
born with the psychorrhagic diathesis, I express what I believe to be an 
important fact, physiological as well as psychological, in terms which 
seem pedantic, but which are the only ones which mean exactly what the 
facts oblige me to say. That which "breaks loose" on my hypothesis 
is not (as in the Greek use of the word) the whole principle of life in the 
organism; rather it is some psychical element probably of very varying 
character, and definable mainly by its power of producing a phantasm, 
perceptible by one or more persons, in some portion or other of space. 
I hold that this phantasmogenetic effect may be produced either on the 
mind, and consequently on the brain of another person — in which case 
he may discern the phantasm somewhere in his vicinity, according to his 
own mental habit or prepossession — or else directly on a portion of space, 


"out in the open," in which case several persons may simultaneously 
discern the phantasm in that actual spot. 

Let us apply this view to one of our most bizarre and puzzling cases 
— that of Canon Bourne (see Appendix VI. B). Here I conceive that 
Canon Bourne, while riding in the hunting-field, was also subliminally 
dreaming of himself (imagining himself with some part of his submerged 
consciousness) as having had a fall, and as beckoning to his daughters — 
an incoherent dream indeed, but of a quite ordinary type. I go on to 
suppose that, Canon Bourne being born with the psychorrhagic diathesis, 
a certain psychical element so far detached itself from his organism as 
to affect a certain portion of space — near the daughters of whom he was 
thinking — to effect it, I say, not materially nor even optically, but yet in 
such a manner that to a certain kind of immaterial and non-optical sensi- 
tivity a phantasm of himself and his horse became discernible. His horse 
was of course as purely a part of the phantasmal picture as his hat. The 
non-optical distinctness with which the words printed inside his hat were 
seen indicates that it was some inner non-retinal vision which received 
the impression from the phantasmogenetic centre. The other phantasmal 
appearance of Canon Bourne chanced to affect only one percipient, but 
was of precisely the same character; and of course adds, so far as it goes, 
to the plausibility of the above explanation. 

That explanation, indeed, suffers from the complexity and apparent 
absurdity inevitable in dealing with phenomena which greatly transcend 
known laws; but on the other hand it does in its way colligate Canon 
Bourne's case with a good many others of odd and varying types. Thus 
appearances such as Canon Bourne's are in my view exactly parallel to 
the hauntings ascribed to departed spirits. There also we find a psychor- 
rhagic diathesis — a habit or capacity on the part of certain spirits of 
detaching some psychical element in such a manner as to form a phantasmal 
picture, which represents the spirit as going through some dream-like 
action in a given place. 

The phantasmogenetic centre may thus, in my view, be equally well 
produced by an incarnate or by a discarnate spirit. 

Again, my hypothesis of a real modification of a part of space, trans- 
forming it into a phantasmogenetic centre, applies to a phantasmal voice 
just as well as to a phantasmal figure. The voice is not heard acoustically 
any more than the figure is seen optically. Yet a phantasmal voice may 
in a true sense "come from" a given spot. 

These psychorrhagic cases are, I think, important as showing us the 
earliest or feeblest stages of self-projection — where the dissociation 


belongs to the dream-stratum — implicating neither the supraliminal will 
nor the profounder subliminal strata. 

And now let us pass on from these, which hardly concern anybody 
beyond the phantom-begetter himself — and do not even add anything 
to his own knowledge — to cases where there is some sort of communica- 
tion from one mind to another, or some knowledge gained by the excursive 

It is impossible to arrange these groups in one continuous logical series. 
But, roughly speaking, the degree in which the psychical collision is recol- 
lected on either side may in some degree indicate its intensity, and may 
serve as a guide to our provisional arrangement. 

Following this scheme I shall begin with a group of cases which seem 
to promise but little information, — cases, namely, where A, the agent, 
in some way impresses or invades P, the percipient, — but nevertheless 
neither A nor P retains in supraliminal memory any knowledge of what 
has occurred. 

Now to begin with we shall have no difficulty in admitting that cases 
of this type are likely often to occur. The psychical rapprochement of 
telepathy takes place, ex hypothesis in a region which is subliminal for both 
agent and percipient, and from whence but few and scattered impressions 
rise for either of them above the conscious threshold. Telepathy will 
thus probably operate far more continuously than our scattered glimpses 
would in themselves suggest. 

But how can we outside inquirers know anything of telepathic incidents 
which the principals themselves fail altogether to remember? 

In ordinary life we may sometimes learn from bystanders incidents 
which we cannot learn from the principals themselves. Can there be 
bystanders who look on at a psychical invasion? 

The question is of much theoretical import. On my view that there 
is a real transference of something from the agent, involving an alteration 
of some kind in a particular part of space, there might theoretically be 
some bystander who might discern that alteration in space more clearly 
than the person for whose benefit, so to say, the alteration was made. If, 
on the other hand, what has happened is merely a transference of some 
impulse a from mind to mind"; — then one can hardly understand how 
any mind except the mind aimed at could perceive the telepathic impres- 
sion. Yet, in collective cases, persons in whom the agent feels no interest, 
nay, of whose presence along with the intended percipient he is not aware, 
do in fact receive the impression in just the same way as that intended 
percipient himself, This was explained by Gurney as probably due to a 


fresh telepathic transmission, — this time from the due or original per- 
cipient's mind to the minds of his neighbours of the moment. 

Such a supposition, however, in itself a difficult one, becomes much 
more difficult when the telepathic impulse has never, so far as we know, 
penetrated into the due or intended percipient's mind at all. If in such a 
case a bystander perceives the invading figure, I must think that he per- 
ceives it merely as a bystander, — not as a person telepathically influenced 
by the intended percipient, who does not in fact perceive anything what- 
soever. I quote in illustration a bizarre but well-attested case (see Ap- 
pendix VI. C) which this explanation seems to fit better than any other. 

In a somewhat similar case 1 there is strong attestation that a sailor, 
watching by a dying comrade, saw figures around his hammock, appar- 
ently representing the dying man's family, in mourning garb. The family, 
although they had no ordinary knowledge of the sailor's illness, had been 
alarmed by noises, etc., which rightly or wrongly they took as indications 
of some danger to him. I conceive, then, that the wife paid a psychical 
visit to her husband; and I take the mourning garb and the accompanying 
children's figures to be symbolical accompaniments, representing her 
thought, "My children will be orphans." I think this more likely than 
that the sailor's children also should have possessed this rare peculiarity 
of becoming perceptible at a distant point in space. And secondary 
figures, as we shall see later on, are not uncommon in such telepathic 
presentations. One may picture oneself as though holding a child by 
the hand, or even driving in a carriage and pair, as vividly as though carry- 
ing an umbrella or walking across a room; and one may be thus pictured 
to others. 

And here I note a gradual transition to the next large class of cases 
on which I am about to enter. I am about to deal with telcesthesia; — 
with cases where an agent-percipient — for he is both in one — makes a 
clairvoyant excursion (of a more serious type than the mere psychorrhagies 
already described), and brings back some memory of the scene which he 
has psychically visited. Now, of course, it may happen that he fails to 
bring back any such memory, or that if he does bring it back, he tells no 
one about it. In such cases, just as in the telepathic cases of which I 
have just spoken, the excursive phantom may possibly be observed by a 
bystander, and the circumstances may be such as to involve some coin- 
cidence which negatives the supposition of the bystander's mere subjec- 
tive fancy. Such, I think, is the case which I give in Appendix VI. D. 

There is a similar case in Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 541, where 

1 See Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 144 [651 A] and ibid. p. 61 [§ 651]. 


a girl, who is corporeally present in a certain drawing-room, is seen phan- 
tasmally in a neighbouring grove, whither she herself presently goes and 
hangs herself. 

Ponderings on projected suicide form perhaps the strongest instance 
of mental preoccupation with a particular spot. But of course, in our 
ignorance of the precise quality of thought or emotion needed to prompt 
a psychical excursion, we need not be surprised to find such an excursion 
observed on some occasions as trivial as the "arrival-case" of Col. Reed, 
with which I prefaced the mere psychorrhagic cases. 

Again, there is a strange case, 1 which comes to us on good authority, 
where we must suppose one man's subliminal impulse to have created 
a picture of himself, his wife, a carriage and a horse, persistent enough 
to have been watched for some seconds at least by three observers in one 
place, and by a fourth and independent observer at another point in the 
moving picture's career. The only alternative, if the narrative be ac- 
cepted as substantially true, will be the hypothesis before alluded to of 
the flashing of an impending scene, as in crystal-vision, from some source 
external to any of the human minds concerned. I need hardly at this 
point repeat that in my view the wife and the horse will be as purely a 
part of the man's conception of his own aspect or environment as the coat 
on his back. 

And here, for purposes of comparison, I must refer to one of the most 
bizarre cases in our collection. 2 Four credible persons, to some extent 
independently, see a carriage and pair, with two men on the box and an 
inside occupant, under circumstances which make it impossible that the 
carriage was real. Now this vision cannot have been precognitive; nothing 
of the kind occurred for years after it, nor well could occur; and I am forced 
to regard it as the externalisation of some dream, whether of an incarnate 
or of a discarnate mind. The parallel between this case and the one men- 
tioned above tends therefore to show that the first, in spite of the para- 
phernalia of wife, horse, and dog-cart, may have been the outcome of a 
single waking dream; — of the phantasmogenetic dissociation of elements 
of one sole personality. 

In the cases which I have just been discussing there has been a 
psychical excursion, with its possibilities of clairvoyance; but the excursive 
element has not brought home any assignable knowledge to the supra- 
liminal personality. I go on now to cases where such knowledge has 
thus been garnered. But here there is need of some further pause, to 

1 Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 97 [654 A]. 

2 Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 194 [654 B]. 


consider a little in how many ways we can imagine that knowledge to 
be reached. 

Firstly, the distant knowledge may, it would seem, be reached through 
hyperesthesia, — an extended power of the ordinary senses. Secondly, 
it sometimes seems to come through crystal-gazing or its correlative shell- 
hearing, — artifices which seem to utilise the ordinary senses in a new 
way. And besides these two avenues to distant knowledge there is a third, 
the telepathic avenue, which, as we have already surmised, sometimes 
shades off into the purely telesthetic; when no distant mind, but only 
the distant scene, seems to be attracting the excursive spirit. And in the 
fourth place we must remember that it is mainly in the form of dream or 
vision that the most striking instances of telesthesia which I have as yet 
recorded have come. Can we in any way harmonise these various modes 
of perception? Can we discover any condition of the percipient which 
is common to all? 

To a certain limited extent such co-ordination is possible. In each 
approach to telesthesia in turn we find a tendency to something like a 
dream-excursion. Hyperesthesia, in the first place, although it exists 
sometimes in persons wide awake, is characteristically an attribute of 
sleep-waking states. 

We have seen in discussing hypnotic experiments that it is sometimes 
possible to extend the subject's perceptive faculty by gradual suggestion, 
so far as to transform a hyperesthesia which can still be referred to the 
action of the sense-organs into a telaesthesia which cannot be so referred. 
It is observable that percipients in such cases sometimes describe their 
sensation as that of receiving an impression, or seeing a picture placed 
before them; sometimes as that of travelling and visiting the distant scene 
or person. Or the feeling may oscillate between these two sensations, 
just as the sense of time-relation in the picture shown may oscillate between 
past, present, and future. 

To all these complex sensations the phenomena of crystal-gazing offer 
close analogies. I have already remarked on the curious fact that the 
simple artifice of gazing into a speculum should prove the avenue to phe- 
nomena of such various types. There may be very different origins even 
for pictures which in the crystal present very similar aspects; and certain 
sensations do also accompany these pictures; sensations not merely of 
gazing but sometimes (though rarely) of partial trance; and oftener of 
bilocation; — of psychical presence among the scenes which the crystal 
has indeed initiated, but no longer seems to limit or to contain. 

The idea of psychical excursion thus suggested must, however, be 


somehow reconciled with the frequently symbolic character of these visions. 
The features of a crystal-vision seem often to be no mere transcription of 
material facts, but an abbreviated selection from such facts, or even a bold 
modification of such facts with a view of telling some story more quickly 
and clearly. We are familiar with the same kind of succession of s)Tn- 
bolical scenes in dream, or in waking reverie. And of course if an intelli- 
gence outside the crystal-gazer's mind is endeavouring to impress him, 
this might well be the chosen way. 

And moreover through all telaesthetic vision some element of similar 
character is wont to run — some indication that mind has been at work 
upon the picture — that the scene has not been presented, so to say, in 
crude objectivity, but that there has been some choice as to the details 
discerned; and some symbolism in the way in which they are pre- 

Let us consider how these characteristics affect different theories of 
the mechanism of clairvoyance. Let us suppose first that there is some 
kind of transition from hyperesthesia to telaesthesia, so that when peri- 
pheral sensation is no longer possible, central perception may be still 
operating across obstacles otherwise insurmountable. 

If this be the case, it seems likely that central perception will shape 
itself on the types of perception to which the central tracts of the brain 
are accustomed; and that the connaissance superieure, the telaesthetic 
knowledge, however it may really be acquired, will present itself mainly 
as clairvoyance or clairaudience — as some form of sight or sound. Yet 
these telaesthetic sights and sounds may be expected to show some trace 
of their unusual origin. They may, for instance, be imperfectly co-ordi- 
nated with sights and sounds arriving through external channels; and, 
since they must in some way be a translation of supernormal impressions 
into sensory terms, they are likely to show something symbolic in char- 

This tendency to subliminal symbolism, indeed, meets us at each point 
of our inquiry. As an instance of it in its simplest form, I may mention 
a case where a botanical student passing inattentively in front of the glass 
door of a restaurant thought that he had seen Verbascum Thapsus printed 
thereon. The real word was Bouillon; and that happens to be the trivial 
name in French for the plant Verbascum Thapsus. The actual optical 
perception had thus been subliminally transformed; the words Verbascum 
Thapsus were the report to the inattentive supraliminal self by a sub- 
liminal self more interested in botany than in dinner. 

Nay, we know that our own optical perception is in its own way highly 


symbolic. The scene which the baby sees instinctively, — which the 
impressionist painter manages to see by a sort of deliberate self-simpli- 
fication, — is very different from the highly elaborate interpretation and 
selection of blotches of colour by which the ordinary adult figures to him- 
self the visible world. 

Now we adults stand towards this subliminal symbolism in much the 
same attitude as the baby stands towards our educated optical symbolism. 
Just as the baby fails to grasp the third dimension, so may we still be failing 
to grasp a fourth; — or whatever be the law of that higher cognisance 
which begins to report fragmentarily to man that which his ordinary senses 
cannot discern. 

Assuredly then we must not take the fact that any knowledge comes to 
us symbolically as a proof that it comes to us from a mind outside our 
own. The symbolism may be the inevitable language in which one 
stratum of our personality makes its report to another. The symbolism, 
in short, may be either the easiest, or the only possible psychical record 
of actual objective fact; .whether that fact be in the first instance dis- 
cerned by our deeper selves, or be conveyed to us from other minds in 
this form; — elaborated for our mind's digestion, as animal food has 
been elaborated for our body's digestion, from a primitive crudity of 

But again one must question, on general idealistic principles, whether 
there be in such cases any real distinction between symbolism and reality, 
— between subjective and objective as we commonly use those terms. 
The resisting matter which we see and touch has "solid" reality for minds 
so constituted as to have the same subjective feeling awakened by it. But 
to other minds, endowed with other forms of sensibility — minds possibly 
both higher and more numerous than our own — this solid matter may 
seem disputable and unreal, while thought and emotion, perceived in ways 
unknown to us, may be the only reality. 

This material world constitutes, in fact, a " privileged case " — a sim- 
plified example — among all discernible worlds, so far as the perception 
of incarnate spirits is concerned. For discarnate spirits it is no longer a 
privileged case; to them it is apparently easier to discern thoughts and 
emotions by non-material signs. 1 But they need not therefore be wholly 
cut off from discerning material things, any more than incarnate spirits 
are wholly cut off from discerning immaterial things — thoughts and 
emotions symbolised in phantasmal form. "The ghost in man, the ghost 
that once was man," to use Tennyson's words, have each of them to over- 
1 See Chapter IX., passim. 


come by empirical artifices certain difficulties which are of different type 
for each, but are not insurmountable by either. 

These reflections, applicable at various points in our argument, have 
seemed specially needed when we had first to attack the meaning of the 
so-called "travelling clairvoyance," of which instances were given in the 
chapter on hypnotism. It was needful to consider how far there was a 
continuous transition between these excursions and directer transferences 
between mind and mind, — between telaesthesia and telepathy. It now 
seems to me that such a continuous transition may well exist, and that 
there is no absolute gulf between the supernormal perception of ideas 
as existing in other minds, and the supernormal perception of what we 
know as matter. All matter may, for aught we know, exist as an idea 
in some cosmic mind, with which mind each individual spirit may be in 
relation, as fully as with individual minds. The difference perhaps lies 
rather in the fact that there may be generally a summons from a cognate 
mind which starts the so-called agent's mind into action; his invasion 
may be in some way invited; while a spiritual excursion among inanimate 
objects only may often lack an impulse to start it. If this be so, it would 
explain the fact that such excursions have mainly succeeded under the 
influence of hypnotic suggestion. 

We see in travelling clairvoyance, 1 just as we see in crystal-visions, a 
kind of fusion of all our forms of supernormal faculty. There is telepathy, 
telaesthesia, retrocognition, precognition; and in the cases reported by 
Cahagnet, which will be referred to in Chapter IX., there is apparently 
something more besides. We see, in short, that any empirical inlet into 
the metetherial world is apt to show us those powers, which we try 
to distinguish, coexisting in some synthesis by us incomprehensible. 
Here, therefore, just as with the crystal-visions, we have artificially to 
separate out the special class of phenomena with which we wish first to 

In these experiments, then, there seems to be an independent power 
of visiting almost any desired place, its position having been perhaps first 
explained by reference to some landmark already known. The clair- 
voyante (I use the female word, but in several cases a man or boy has 
shown this power) will frequently miss her way, and describe houses or 
scenes adjacent to those desired. Then if she — almost literally — gets 
on the scent, — if she finds some place which the man whom she is sent to 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vii. pp. 30-99 [572 A and 573 B]; op. tit., 199- 
220 [573 C]; Zoist, vol. vii. pp. 95-101, vol. ix. p. 234, vol. xii. pp. 249-52; and 
Dr, Fahnestock's Statuvolism, especially pp. 127-35 and 221-32. 


seek has some time traversed, — she follows up his track with greater ease, 
apparently recognising past events in his life as well as present circum- 

In these prolonged experimental cases there is thus time enough to 
allow of the clairvoyante's traversing certain places, such as empty rooms, 
factories, and the like, whither no assignable link from any living person 
could draw her. The evidence to prove telaesthesia, unmixed with tele- 
pathy, has thus generally come incidentally in the course of some experi- 
ment mainly telepathic in character. 

These long clairvoyant wanderings are more nearly paralleled by 
dreams than by waking hallucinations. 

In a case which I will here quote a physician is impressed, probably 
in dream, with a picture of a special place in a street, where something 
is happening, which, though in itself unemotional — merely that a man 
is standing and talking in the street — is of moment to the physician, who 
wants to get unobtrusively into the man's house. 

From Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 267. The case is there de- 
scribed as coming " from a Fellow of the College of Physicians, who fears 
professional injury if he were 'supposed to defend opinions at variance 
with general scientific belief,' and does not therefore allow his name to 
appear. " 

May 20th, 1884. 
Twenty years ago [abroad] I had a patient, wife of a parson. She 
had a peculiar kind of delirium which did not belong to her disease, and 
perplexed me. The house in which she lived was closed at midnight, 
that is — the outer door had no bell. One night I saw her at nine. When 
I came home I said to my wife, "I don't understand that case; I wish I 
could get into the house late." We went to bed rather early. At about 
one o'clock I got up. She said, " What are you about ? are you not well ? " 
I said, "Perfectly so." "Then why get up?" "Because I can get into 
that house." "How, if it is shut up?" "I see the proprietor standing 
under the lamp-post this side of the bridge, with another man." "You 
have been dreaming." "No, I have been wide awake; but dreaming 
or waking, I mean to try." I started with the firm conviction that I 
should find the individual in question. Sure enough there he was under 
the lamp-post, talking to a friend. I asked him if he was going home. 
(I knew him very well.) He said he was, so I told him I was going to 
see a patient, and would accompany him. I was positively ashamed 
to explain matters; it seemed so absurd that I knew he would not believe 
me. On arriving at the house I said, " Now I am here, I will drop in and 
see my patient." On entering the room I found the maid giving her a 
tumbler of strong grog. The case was clear; it was as I suspected — de- 
lirium from drink. The next day I. delicately spoke to the husband about 


it. He denied it, and in the afternoon I received a note requesting me 
not to repeat the visits. Three weeks ago I was recounting the story 
and mentioned the name. A lady present said: "That is the name of the 
clergyman in my parish, at B., and his wife is in a lunatic asylum from 

In conversation with Gurney, the narrator explained that the vision 
— though giving an impression of externality and seen, as he believes, 
with open eyes — was not definably located in space. He had never 
encountered the proprietor in the spot where he saw him, and it was not 
a likely thing that he should be standing talking in the streets at so late 
an hour. 

In this case we cannot consider either the drunken patient or the in- 
different proprietor as in any sense the agent. Somehow or other the 
physician's own persistent wish to get some such opportunity induced a 
collaboration of his subliminal with his supraliminal self, akin to the 
inspirations of genius. Genius, however, operates within ordinary sen- 
sory limits; while in this physician's case the subliminal self exercised its 
farthest-reaching supernormal powers. 

With this again may be compared a case in Phantasms of the Living 
(vol. ii. p. 368), where a dreamer seems to himself to be present in the 
Thames Tunnel during a fatal accident, which did in fact occur during 
that night. Here again the drowned workman — who was quite unknown 
to the distant dreamer — can hardly be called an agent; yet it may have 
been the excitement surrounding his death which attracted the dreamer's 
spirit to that scene, as a conflagration might attract a waking night- 

There are, on the other hand, a good many cases where a scene 
thus discerned in a flash is one of special interest to the percipient, 
although no one in the scene may have actually wished to transfer it to 

A case again of a somewhat different type is the sudden waking vision 
of Mr. Gottschalk, 1 who sees in a circle of light the chalked hands and 
ruffled wrists of Mr. Courtenay Thorpe — a well-known actor — who 
was opening a letter of Mr. Gottschalk's in that costume at the time. 
Trivial in itself, this incident illustrates an interesting class of cases, where 
a picture very much like a crystal-vision suddenly appears on a wall or 
even in the air with no apparent background. 

I know one or two persons who have had in their lives one single round 
or oval hallucinatory picture of this kind, of which no interpretation was 

1 Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 31 [662 B]. 


apparent, — a curious indication of some subliminal predisposition towards 
this somewhat elaborate form of message. 

Somewhat like Mr. Gottschalk's projection of his picture upon a back- 
ground of dark air is the experience of Mrs. Taunton. 1 In this case the 
phantasm was perfectly external; yet it certainly did not hold to the real 
objects around the same relation as a figure of flesh and blood would have 
held; it was in a peculiar way transparent. Gurney regards this trans- 
parency as indicating imperfect externalisation of the hallucinatory image. 

My own phrase, " imperfect co-ordination of inner with outward vision,'* 
comes to much the same thing, and seems specially applicable to Mrs. 
Taunton's words: "The appearance was not transparent or filmy, but 
perfectly solid-looking; and yet I could somehow see the orchestra, not through, 
but behind it" There are a few cases where the percipient seems to see 
a hallucinatory figure behind him, out of the range of optical vision. 2 There 
is of course no reason why this should not be so, — even if a part of space 
external to the percipient's brain should be actually affected. 

Mr. Searle's case also is very interesting. 3 Here Mrs. Searle faints 
when visiting a house a few miles from Mr. Searle's chambers in the Temple. 
At or about the same time, he sees as though in a looking-glass, upon a 
window opposite him, his wife's head and face, white and bloodless. 

Gurney suggests that this was a transference from Mrs. Searle's mind 
simply of "the idea of fainting," which then worked itself out into per- 
ception in an appropriate fashion. 

Was it thus? Or did Mr. Searle in the Temple see with inner vision 
his wife's head as she lay back faint and pallid in Gloucester Gardens? 
Our nearest analogy here is plainly crystal- vision; and crystal- visions, as 
we have observed, point both ways. Sometimes the picture in the crystal 
is conspicuously symbolical; sometimes it seems a transcript of an actual 
distant scene. 

There are two further problems which occur as we deal with each class 
of cases in turn, — the problem of time-relations and the problem of spirit- 
agency. Can an incident be said to be seen clairvoyantly if it is seen some 
hours after it occurred? Ought we to say that a scene is clairvoyantly 
visited, or that it is spiritually shown, if it represents a still chamber of 
death, 4 where no emotion is any longer stirring; but to which the freed 
spirit might desire to attract the friend's attention and sympathy? 

1 Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 37 [662 D], 

2 See Journal S.P.R., vol. vii. p. 25 [665 A]. 

3 Phantasms 0} the Living, vol. ii. p. 35 [662 C]. 

4 See Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 265 [§ 664]. 


Such problems cannot at present be solved; nor, as I have said, can 
any one class of these psychical interchanges be clearly demarcated from 
other classes. Recognising this, we must explain the central character- 
istics of each group in turn, and show at what points that group appears 
to merge into the next. 

And now we come to that class of cases where B invades A, and A 
perceives the invasion; but B retains no memory of it in supraliminal life. 
From one point of view, as will be seen, this is just the reverse of the class 
last discussed — where the invader remembered an invasion which the 
invaded person (when there was one) did not perceive. 

We have already discussed some cases of this sort which seemed to be 
psychorrhagic — to have occurred without will or purpose on the part 
of the invader. What we must now do is to collect cases where there may 
probably have been some real projection of will or desire on the invader's 
part, leading to the projection of his phantasm in a manner recognisable 
by the distant friend whom he thus invades — yet without subsequent 
memory of his own. These cases will be intermediate between the psy- 
chorrhagic cases already described and the experimental cases on which 
we shall presently enter. 

In the case of Canon Warburton — in Chapter IV. — the person under- 
going the accident did recollect having had a vivid thought of his brother at 
the moment; — while his brother on the other hand was startled from a 
slight doze by the vision of the scene of danger as then taking place; — the 
steep stairs and the falling figure. This is an acute crisis, much resembling 
impending death by drowning, etc.; and the apparition may be construed 
either way — either as a scene clairvoyantly discerned by Canon Warbur- 
ton, owing, as I say, to a spasmodic tightening of his psychical link with 
his brother, or as a sudden invasion on that brother's part, whose very 
rapidity perhaps helped to prevent his remembering it. 

The case given in Appendix VI. E is interesting, both evidentially 
and from its intrinsic character. The narrative, printed in Phantasms 
oj the Living, on the authority of one only of the witnesses concerned, 
led to the discovery of the second witness — whom we had no other means 
of finding — and has been amply corroborated by her independent account. 

The case stands about midway between psychorrhagic cases and in- 
tentional self-projections, and is clearly of the nature of an invasion, since 
the phantasm was seen by a stranger as well as by the friend, and seemed 
to both to be moving about the room. The figure, that is to say, was 
adapted to the percipient's environment. 

Cases of this general character, both visual and auditory, occupy a 


great part of Phantasms 0} the Living, and others have been frequently 
quoted in the S.P.R. Journal during recent years. 1 

Of still greater interest is the class which comes next in order in my 
ascending scale of apparent intensity; the cases, namely, where there is 
recollection on both sides, so that the experience is reciprocal. 2 These 
deserve study, for it is by noting under what circumstances these spon- 
taneously reciprocal cases occur that we have the best chance of learning 
how to produce them experimentally. It will be seen that there have 
been various degrees of tension of thought on the agent's part. 

And here comes in a small but important group — the group of what 
I may call death-compacts prematurely fulfilled. We shall see in the 
next chapter that the exchange of a solemn promise between two friends 
to appear to one another, if possible, after death is far from being a useless 
piece of sentiment. Such posthumous appearances, it is true, may be in 
most cases impossible, but nevertheless there is real ground to believe 
that the previous tension of the will in that direction makes it more likely 
that the longed-for meeting shall be accomplished. If so, this is a kind 
of experiment, and an experiment which all can make. 

Now we have two or three cases where this compact has been made, 
and where an apparition has followed — but before and not after the 
agent's death — at the moment, that is to say, of some dangerous accident, 
when the sufferer was perhaps all but drowned, or was stunned, or other- 
wise insensible. 3 

Lastly, the lessons of these spontaneous apparitions have been con- 
firmed and widened by actual experiment. It is plain that just as we are 
not confined to noting small spontaneous telepathic transferences when 
they occur, but can also endeavour to reproduce them by experiment, 
so also we can endeavour to reproduce experimentally these more advanced 
telepathic phenomena of the invasion of the presence of the percipient 
by the agent. It is to be hoped, indeed, that such experiment may become 
one of the most important features of our inquiry. The type of the ex- 
periment is somewhat as follows. The intending agent endeavours by 
an effort at self-concentration, made either in waking hours or just before 
sleep, to render himself perceptible to a given person at a distance, who, 
of course, must have no reason to expect a phantasmal visit at that hour. 

1 For examples of various types see Journal S.P.R. , vol. vii. p. 25; vol. v. p. 68, 
and op. cit., p. 147 [665 A, B and C]. 

2 See Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 162; op. cit., p. 164; Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. vii. p. 41 [666 A, B and C]. 

See Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 527, for example [667 A]. 


Independent records must be made on each side, of all attempts made, 
and of all phantoms seen. The evidential point is, of course, the coin- 
cidence between the attempt and the phantom, whether or not the agent 
can afterwards remember his own success. 1 

Now the experimental element here is obviously very incomplete. It 
consists in little more than in a concentrated desire to produce an effect 
which one can never explain, and seldom fully remember. I have seen 
no evidence to show that any one can claim to be an adept in such matters 
— has learned a method of thus appearing at will. 2 We are acting in the 
dark. Yet nevertheless the mere fact that on some few occasions this 
strong desire has actually been followed by a result of this extremely in- 
teresting kind is one of the most encouraging phenomena in our whole 
research. The successes indeed have borne a higher proportion to the 
failures than I should have ventured to hope. But nowhere is there more 
need of persistent and careful experimentation ; — nowhere, I may add, 
have emotions quite alien from Science — mere groundless fears of seeing 
anything unusual — interfered with more disastrous effect. Such fears, 
one hopes, will pass away, and the friend's visible image will be recognised 
as a welcome proof of the link that binds the two spirits together. 

The case which I quote in Appendix VI. F illustrates both the essential 
harmlessness — nay, naturalness — of such an experiment, and the cause- 
less fear which it may engender even in rational and serious minds. 

In these experimental apparitions, which form, as it were, the spolia 
opima of the collector, we naturally wish to know all that we can about 
each detail in the experience. Two important points are the amount oj 
effort made by the experimenter, and the degree of his consciousness of 
success. The amount of effort in Mr. S. H. B.'s case (for instance) seems 
to have been great; and this is encouraging, since what we want is to be 
assured that the tension of will has really some power. It seems to act 
in much the same way as a therapeutic suggestion from the conscious 
self; one can never make sure that any given self-suggestion will "take"; 
but, on the whole, the stronger the self-suggestions, the better the result. 
It is therefore quite in accordance with analogy that a suggestion from 

1 For cases see the second edition of Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. lxxxi; Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. x. pp. 270, 273, and 418; Forum, March 1900; Journal S.P.R., 
vol. iv. p. 217; vol. vii. p. 99 [668 A to G]. See also Phantasms oj the Living, vol. i. 
p. 103 and vol. ii. p. 675; and the Journal S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 307. 

2 Some such power as this is frequently claimed in oriental books as attainable by 
mystic practices. We have not thus far been fortunate enough to discover any per- 
formances corresponding to these promises. 


without, given to a hypnotised person, should be the most promising way 
of inducing these self-projections. It should be strongly impressed on 
hypnotised subjects that they can and must temporarily "leave the body," 
as they call it, and manifest themselves to distant persons — the consent, 
of course, of both parties to the experiment having been previously secured. 

Of this type were Dr. Backman's experiments with his subject "Alma," * 
and although that series of efforts was prematurely broken off, it was full 
of promise. There were some slight indications that Alma's clairvoyant 
excursions were sometimes perceptible to persons in the scenes psychically 
invaded; and there was considerable and growing evidence to her own 
retention in subsequent memory of some details of those distant scenes. 

By all analogy, indeed, that subsequent memory should be an eminently 
educable thing. The carrying over of recollections from one stratum of 
personality into another — as hypnotic experiment shows us — is largely 
a matter of patient suggestion. It would be very desirable to hypnotise 
the person who had succeeded in producing an experimental apparition, 
of Mr. S. H. B.'s type, and to see if he could then recall the psychical ex- 
cursion. Hypnotic states should be far more carefully utilised in connec- 
tion with all these forms of self-projection. 

In these self -projections we have before us, I do not say the most useful, 
but the most extraordinary achievement of the human will. What can 
lie further outside any known capacity than the po\fcer to cause a sem- 
blance of oneself to appear at a distance? What can\be a more central 
action — more manifestly the outcome of whatsoever is deepest and most 
unitary in man's whole being? Here, indeed, begins the justification of 
the conception expressed at the beginning of this chapter; — that we 
should now see the subliminal self no longer as a mere chain of eddies 
or backwaters, in some way secluded from the main stream of man's being, 
but rather as itself the central and potent current, the most truly identifiable 
with the man himself. Other achievements have their manifest limit; 
where is the limit here? The spirit has shown itself in part dissociated 
from the organism; to what point may its dissociation go? It has shown 
some independence, some intelligence, some permanence. To what 
degree of intelligence, independence, permanence, may it conceivably 
attain? Of all vital phenomena, I say, this is the most significant; this 
self -projection is the one definite act which it seems as though a man might 
perform equally well before and after bodily death. 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vii. pp. 199-220 [573 C]. 


ovk4ti irpbata 
dfidrav &\a Ktbvcov virkp 'Hpa/cX^oy irepav €&jxap£s. 
. . . 0vp,i, rlva vpbs dWoSairbv 
dicpav ifibv ir\bov Trapafieipeat; 

— Pindar 

The course of our argument has gradually conducted us to a point 
of capital importance. A profound and central question, approached 
in irregular fashion from time to time in previous chapters, must now 
be directly faced. From the actions and perceptions of spirits still in 
the flesh, and concerned with one another, we must pass on to inquire 
into the actions of spirits no longer in the flesh, and into the forms of per- 
ception with which men still in the flesh respond to that unfamiliar and 
mysterious agency. 

There need, I hope, be no real break here in my previous line of argu- 
ment. The subliminal self, which we have already traced through various 
phases of growing sensitivity, growing independence of organic bonds, 
will now be studied as sensitive to yet remoter influences ; — as maintain- 
ing an independent existence even when the organism is destroyed. Our 
subject will divide itself conveniently under three main heads. First, 
it will be well to discuss briefly the nature of the evidence to man's survival 
of death which may theoretically be obtainable, and its possible connec- 
tions with evidence set forth in previous chapters. Secondly, — and this 
must form the bulk of the present chapter, — we need a classified exposi- 
tion of the main evidence to survival thus far obtained; — so far, that is 
to say, as sensory automatism — audition or apparition — is concerned; 
for motor automatism — automatic writing and trance-utterance — must 
be left for later discussion. Thirdly, there will be need of some consid- 
eration of the meaning of this evidence as a whole, and of its implications 
alike for the scientific and for the ethical future of mankind. Much more, 
indeed, of discussion (as well as of evidence) than I can furnish will be 
needed before this great conception can be realised or argued from with 


the scientific thoroughness due to its position among fundamental cos- 
mical laws. Considering how familiar the notion — the vague shadowy 
notion — of " immortality " has always been, it is strange indeed that so 
little should have been done in these modern days to grasp or to criticise 
it; — so little, one might almost say, since the Phcedo of Plato. 

Beginning, then, with the inquiry as to what kind of evidence ought 
to be demanded for human survival, we are met first by the bluff state- 
ment which is still often uttered even by intelligent men, that no evidence 
would convince them of such a fact; " neither would they be persuaded 
though one rose from the dead." 

Extravagant as such a profession sounds, it has a meaning which we 
shall do well to note. These resolute antagonists mean that no new 
evidence can carry conviction to them unless it be continuous with old 
evidence; and that they cannot conceive that evidence to a world of spirit 
can possibly be continuous with evidence based upon our experience of 
a world of matter. I agree with this demand for continuity; and I agree 
also that the claims usually advanced for a spiritual world have not only 
made no attempt at continuity with known fact, but have even ostenta- 
tiously thrown such continuity to the winds. The popular mind has 
expressly desired something startling, something outside Law and above 
Nature. It has loved, if not a Credo quia absurdum, at least a Credo 
quia non probatum. But the inevitable retribution is a deep insecurity 
in the conviction thus attained. Unsupported by the general fabric of 
knowledge, the act of faith seems to shrink into the background as that 
great fabric stands and grows. 

I can hardly too often repeat that my object in these pages is of a quite 
opposite character. Believing that all cognisable Mind is as continuous 
as all cognisable Matter, my ideal would be to attempt for the realm of 
mind what the spectroscope and the law of gravitation have effected for 
the realm of matter, and to carry that known cosmic uniformity of sub- 
stance and interaction upwards among the essences and operations of 
an unknown spiritual world. And in order to explore these unreachable 
altitudes I would not ask to stand with the theologian on the summit of 
a "cloud-capt tower," but rather on plain earth at the measured base 
of a trigonometrical survey. 

If we would measure such a base, the jungle must be cleared to begin 
with. Let us move for a while among first definitions; trying to make 
clear to ourselves what kind of thing it is that we are endeavouring to trace 
or discover. In popular parlance, we are looking out for ghosts. What 
connotation, then, are we to give to the word "ghost" — a word which 


has embodied so many unfounded theories and causeless fears ? It would 
be more satisfactory, in the present state of our knowledge, simply to 
collect facts without offering speculative comment. But it seems safer 
to begin by briefly pointing out the manifest errors of the traditional view; 
since that tradition, if left unnoticed, would remain lodged in the back- 
ground even of many minds which have never really accepted it. 

Briefly, then, the popular view regards a " ghost" as a deceased person 
permitted by Providence to hold communication with survivors. And this 
short definition contains, I think, at least three unwarrantable assumptions. 

In the first place, such words as permission and Providence are simply 
neither more nor less applicable to this phenomenon than to any other. 
We conceive that all phenomena alike take place in accordance with the 
laws of the universe, and consequently by permission of the Supreme 
Power in the universe. Undoubtedly the phenomena with which we are 
dealing are in this sense permitted to occur. But there is no a priori 
reason whatever for assuming that they are permitted in any especial 
sense of their own, or that they form exceptions to law, instead of being 
exemplifications of law. Nor is there any a posteriori reason for suppos- 
ing any such inference to be deducible from a study of the phenomena 
themselves. If we attempt to find in these phenomena any poetical justice 
or manifest adaptation to human cravings, we shall be just as much dis- 
appointed as if we endeavoured to find a similar satisfaction in the ordinary 
course of terrene history. 

In the second place, we have no warrant for the assumption that the 
phantom seen, even though it be somehow caused by a deceased person, 
is that deceased person, in any ordinary sense of the word. Instead of 
appealing to the crude analogy of the living friend who, when he has walked 
into the room, is in the room, we shall find for the ghost a much closer 
parallel in those hallucinatory figures or phantasms which living persons 
can sometimes project at a distance. 

But experience shows that when — as with these post-mortem phan- 
toms — the deceased person has gone well out of sight or reach there is 
a tendency, so to say, to anthropomorphose the apparition; to suppose 
that, as the deceased person is not provably anywhere else, he is probably 
here; and that the apparition is bound to behave accordingly. All such 
assumptions must be dismissed, and the phantom must be taken on its 
merits, as indicating merely a certain connection with the deceased, the 
precise nature of that connection being a part of the problem to be 

And in the third place, just as we must cease to say that the phantom 


is the deceased, so also must we cease to ascribe to the phantom the 
motives by which we imagine that the deceased might be swayed. We 
must therefore exclude from our definition of a ghost any words which 
assume its intention to communicate with the living. It may bear such 
a relation to the deceased that it can reflect or represent his presumed 
wish to communicate, or it may not. If, for instance, its relation to his 
post-mortem life be like the relation of my dreams to my earthly life, it 
may represent little that is truly his, save such vague memories and 
instincts as give a dim individuality to each man's trivial dreams. 

Let us attempt, then, a truer definition. Instead of describing a 
" ghost" as a dead person permitted to communicate with the living, let 
us define it as a manifestation 0} persistent personal energy, or as an 
indication that some kind of force is being exercised after death which is 
in some way connected with a person previously known on earth. In this 
definition we have eliminated, as will be seen, a great mass of popular 
assumptions. Yet we must introduce a further proviso, lest our definition 
still seem to imply an assumption which we have no right to make. It is 
theoretically possible that this force or influence, which after a man's death 
creates a phantasmal impression of him, may indicate no continuing 
action on his part, but may be some residue of the force or energy which 
he generated while yet alive. There may be veridical after-images — 
such as Gurney hints at (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 417) when in his 
comments on the recurring figure of an old woman — seen on the bed 
where she was murdered — he remarks that this figure suggests not so 
much "any continuing local interest on the part of the deceased per- 
son, as the survival of a mere image, impressed, we cannot guess how, 
on we cannot guess what, by that person's physical organism, and 
perceptible at times to those endowed with some cognate form of sensi- 

Strange as this notion may seem, it is strongly suggested by many of 
the cases of haunting which do not fall within the scope of the present 
chapter. We shall presently find that there is strong evidence for the 
recurrence of the same hallucinatory figures in the same localities, but 
weak evidence to indicate any purpose in most of these figures, or any 
connection with bygone individuals, or with such tragedies as are popu- 
larly supposed to start a ghost on its career. In some of these cases of 
frequent, meaningless recurrence of a figure in a given spot, we are driven 
to wonder whether it can be some deceased person's past frequentation 
of that spot, rather than any fresh action of his after death, which has 
generated what I have termed the veridical after-image — veridical in 


the sense that it communicates information, previously unknown to the 
percipient, as to a former inhabitant of the haunted locality. 

Such are some of the questions which our evidence suggests. And I 
may point out that the very fact that such bizarre problems should present 
themselves at every turn does in a certain sense tend to show that these 
apparitions are not purely subjective things, — do not originate merely 
in the percipient's imagination. For they are not like what any man 
would have imagined. What man's mind does tend to fancy on such topics 
may be seen in the endless crop of fictitious ghost stories, which furnish, 
indeed, a curious proof of the persistence of preconceived notions. For 
they go on being framed according to canons of their own, and deal with 
a set of imaginary phenomena quite different from those which actually 
occur. The actual phenomena, I may add, could scarcely be made 
romantic. One true "ghost story" is apt to be very like another, and most 
of them to be fragmentary and apparently meaningless. Their meaning, 
that is to say, lies in their conformity, not to the mythopoeic instinct of 
mankind, which fabricates and enjoys the fictitious tales, but to some 
unknown law, not based on human sentiment or convenience at all. 

And thus, absurdly enough, we sometimes hear men ridicule the phe- 
nomena which actually do happen, simply because those phenomena 
do not suit their preconceived notions of what ghostly phenomena ought 
to be; — not perceiving that this very divergence, this very unexpectedness, 
is in itself no slight indication of an origin outside the minds which 
obviously were so far from anticipating anything of the kind. 

And in fact the very qualities which are most apt to raise derision are 
such as the evidence set forth in the earlier chapters of this work might 
reasonably lead us to expect. For I hold that now for the first time can we 
form a conception of ghostly communications which shall in any way con- 
sist or cohere with more established conceptions ; which can be presented 
as in any way a development of facts which are already experimentally 
known. Two preliminary conceptions were needed — conceptions in 
one sense ancient enough; but yet the first of which has only in this 
generation found its place in science, while the second is as yet awaiting 
its brevet of orthodoxy. The first conception is that with which hypno- 
tism and various automatisms have familiarised us, — the conception of 
multiplex personality, of the potential coexistence of many states and 
many memories in the same individual. The second is the conception 
of telepathy; of the action of mind on mind apart from the ordinary organs 
of sense; and especially of its action by means of hallucinations; by the 
generation of veridical phantasms which form, as it were, messages from 


men still in the flesh. And I believe that these two conceptions are in 
this way connected, that the telepathic message generally starts from, 
and generally impinges upon, a subconscious or submerged stratum in 
both agent and percipient. 1 Wherever there is hallucination, whether 
delusive or veridical, I hold that a message of some sort is forcing its way 
upwards from one stratum of personality to another, — a message which 
may be merely dreamlike and incoherent, or which may symbolise a fact 
otherwise unreachable by the percipient personality. And the mechanism 
seems much the same whether the message's path be continued within 
one individual or pass between two; whether A's own submerged self be 
signalling to his emergent self, or B be telepathically stimulating the hidden 
fountains of perception in A. If anything like this be true, it seems plainly 
needful that all that we know of abnormal or supernormal communica- 
tions between minds, or states of the same mind, still embodied in flesh, 
should be searched for analogies which may throw light on this strangest 
mode of intercourse between embodied and disembodied minds. 

A communication (if such a thing exists) from a departed person to a 
person still on earth is, at any rate, a communication from a mind in one 
state of existence to a mind in a very different state of existence. And it 
is, moreover, a communication from one mind to another which passes 
through some channel other than the ordinary channels of sense, since 
on one side of the gulf no material sense-organs exist. It will apparently 
be an extreme instance of both these classes — of communications between 
state and state, 2 and of telepathic communications ; and we ought, there- 
fore, to approach it by considering the less advanced cases of both these 

On what occasions do we commonly find a mind conversing with 
another mind not on the same plane with itself ? — with a mind inhabiting 
in some sense a different world, and viewing the environment with a differ- 
ence of outlook greater than the mere difference of character of the two 
personages will account for? 

The first instance of this sort which will occur to us lies in spontaneous 
somnambulism, or colloquy between a person asleep and a person awake. 

1 See Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 231. 

2 Some word is much needed to express communications between one state and 
another, e.g. between the somnambulic and the waking state, or, in hypnotism, the 
cataleptic and the somnambulic, etc. The word "methectic" (fxedeKriicds) seems 
to me the most suitable, especially since n£6efc happens to be the word used by Plato 
(Parm. 132 D.) for participation between ideas and concrete objects. Or the word 
"inter-state" might be pressed into this new duty. 


And observe here how slight an accident allows us to enter into converse 
with a state which at first sight seems a type of incommunicable isolation. 
" Awake, we share our world," runs the old saying, "but each dreamer 
inhabits a world of his own." Yet the dreamer, apparently so self-enclosed, 
may be gently led, or will spontaneously enter, into converse with waking 

The somnambulist, or rather the somniloquist — for it is the talking 
rather than the walking which is the gist of the matter — is thus our first 
natural type of the revenant. 

And observing the habits of somnambulists, we note that the degree 
in which they can communicate with other minds varies greatly in different 
cases. One sleep-waker will go about his customary avocations without 
recognising the presence of any other person whatever; another will recog- 
nise certain persons only, or will answer when addressed, but only on 
certain subjects, his mind coming into contact with other minds only on 
a very few points. Rarely or never will a somnambulist spontaneously 
notice what other persons are doing, and adapt his own actions thereto. 

Next let us turn from natural to induced sleep-waking, from idiopathic 
somnambulism to the hypnotic trance. Here, too, throughout the different 
stages of the trance, we find a varying and partial (or elective) power of 
communication. Sometimes the entranced subject makes no sign what- 
ever; sometimes he seems able to hear and answer one person, or certain 
persons, and not others; sometimes he will talk freely to all; but, however 
freely he may talk, he is not exactly his waking self, and as a rule he has 
no recollection, or a very imperfect recollection, in waking life of what 
he has said or done in his trance. 

Judging, then, from such analogy as communications from one living 
state to another can suggest to us, we shall expect that the communication 
of a disembodied or discarnate person with an incarnate, if such exist, will 
be subject to narrow limitations, and very possibly will not form a part 
of the main current of the supposed discarnate consciousness. 

These preliminary considerations are applicable to any kind of alleged 
communication from the departed — whether well or ill evidenced; whether 
conveyed in sensory or in motor form. 

Let us next consider what types of communication from the dead our 
existing evidence of communications among the living suggests to us 
as analogically possible. It appears to me that there is an important 
parallelism running through each class of our experiments in automatism 
and each class of our spontaneous phenomena. Roughly speaking, we may 
say that our experiment and observation up to this point have comprised 


five different stages of phenomena, viz., (I.) hypnotic suggestion; (II.) tele- 
pathic experiments; (III.) spontaneous telepathy during life; (IV.) phan- 
tasms at death; (V.) phantasms after death. And we find, I think, that 
the same types of communication meet us at each stage; so that this re- 
current similarity of types raises a presumption that the underlying 
mechanism of manifestation at each stage may be in some way similar. 

Again using a mere rough form of division, we shall find three main 
forms of manifestation at each stage: (1) hallucinations of the senses; 
(2) emotional and motor impulses; (3) definite intellectual messages. 

(I.) And first let us start from a class of experiments into which 
telepathy does not enter, but which exhibit in its simplest form the 
mechanism of the automatic transfer of messages from one stratum to 
another of the same personality. I speak, of course, of post-hypnotic 
suggestions. Here the agent is a living man, operating in an ordinary 
way, by direct speech. The unusual feature lies in the condition of the 
percipient, who is hypnotised at the time, and is thus undergoing a kind 
of dislocation of personality, or temporary upheaval of a habitually 
subjacent stratum of the self. This hypnotic personality, being for the 
time at the surface, receives the agent's verbal suggestion, of which the 
percipient's waking self is unaware. Then afterwards, when the waking 
self has resumed its usual upper position, the hypnotic self carries out 
at the stated time the given suggestion, — an act whose origin the upper 
stratum of consciousness does not know, but which is in effect a message 
communicated to the upper stratum from the now submerged or sub- 
conscious stratum on which the suggestion was originally impressed. 

And this message may take any one of the three leading forms men- 
tioned above; — say a hallucinatory image of the hypnotiser or of some 
other person; or an impulse to perform some action; or a definite word 
or sentence to be written automatically by the waking self, which thus 
learns what order has been laid upon the hypnotic self while the waking 
consciousness was in abeyance. 

(II.) Now turn to our experiments in thought-transference. Here 
again the agent is a living man; but he is no longer operating by ordinary 
means, — by spoken words or visible gestures. He is operating on the 
percipient's subconscious self by means of a telepathic impulse, which 
he desires, indeed, to project from himself, and which the percipient may 
desire to receive, but of whose modus operandi the ordinary waking selves 
of agent and percipient alike are entirely unaware. 

Here again we may divide the messages sent into the same three main 
classes. First come the hallucinatory figures — always or almost always 


of himself — which the agent causes the percipient to see. Secondly 
come impulses to act, telepathically impressed, as when the hypnotiser 
desires his subject to come to him at an hour not previously notified. And 
thirdly, we have a parallel to the post-hypnotic writing of definite words 
or figures in our own experiments on the direct telepathic transmission 
of words, figures, cards, etc., from the agent, using no normal means of 
communication, to the percipient, either in the hypnotised or in the waking 

(III.) We come next to the spontaneous phantasms occurring during 
life. Here we find the same three broad classes of messages, with this 
difference, that the actual apparitions, which in our telepathic experimen- 
tation are thus far unfortunately rare, become now the most important 
class. I need not recall the instances given in Chapters IV. and VI., etc., 
where an agent undergoing some sudden crisis seems in some way to gen- 
erate an apparition of himself seen by a distant percipient. Important 
also in this connection are those apparitions of the double, where some one 
agent is seen repeatedly in phantasmal form by different percipients at 
times when that agent is undergoing no special crisis. 

Again, among our telepathic impressions generated (spontaneously, 
not experimentally) by living agents, we have cases, which I need not 
here recapitulate, of pervading sensations of distress ; or impulses to return 
home, which are parallel to the hypnotised subject's impulse to approach 
his distant hypnotiser, at a moment when that hypnotiser is willing him 
to do so. 

And thirdly, among these telepathic communications from the living 
to the living, we have definite sentences automatically written, communi- 
cating facts which the distant person knows, but is not consciously en- 
deavouring to transmit. 

(IV.) Passing on to phantasms which cluster about the moment of 
death, we find our three main classes of cases still meeting us. Our readers 
are familiar with the visual cases, where there is an actual apparition of 
the dying man, seen by one or more persons; and also with the emotional 
and motor cases, where the impression, although powerful, is not definitely 
sensory in character. And various cases also have been published where 
the message has consisted of definite words, not always externalised as 
an auditory hallucination, but sometimes automatically uttered or auto- 
matically written by the percipient himself, as in the case communicated 
by Dr. Lie"beault (see Appendix VIII. C), where a girl writes the mes- 
sage announcing her friend's death at the time when that friend is, in 
fact, dying in a distant city. 


(V.) And now I maintain that in these post-mortem cases also we 
find the same general classes persisting, and in somewhat the same pro- 
portion. Most conspicuous are the actual apparitions, with which, indeed, 
the following pages will mainly deal. It is very rare to find an appari- 
tion which seems to impart any verbal message; but a case of this kind 
has been given in Appendix IV. F. As a rule, however, the apparition 
is of the apparently automatic, purposeless character, already so fully 
described. We have also the emotional and motor class of post-mortem 
cases; 1 and these may, perhaps, be more numerous in proportion than 
our collection would indicate; for it is obvious that impressions which 
are so much less definite than a visual hallucination (although they may 
be even more impressive to the percipient himself) can rarely be used as 
evidence of communication with the departed. 

But now I wish to point out that, besides these two classes of post- 
mortem manifestations, we have our third class also still persisting; we 
have definite verbal messages which at least purport, and sometimes, I 
think, with strong probability, to come from the departed. 

I have, indeed, for the reader's convenience, postponed these motor 
cases to a subsequent chapter, so that the evidence here and now pre- 
sented for survival will be very incomplete. Yet, at any rate, we are 
gradually getting before us a fairly definite task. We have in this chap- 
ter to record and analyse such sensory experiences of living men as seem 
referable to the action of some human individuality persisting after death. 
We have also obtained some preliminary notion as to the kind of phenomena 
for which we can hope, especially as to what their probable limitations 
must be, considering how great a gulf between psychical states any com- 
munication must overpass. 

Let us now press the actual evidential question somewhat closer. Let 
us consider, for it is by no means evident at first sight, what conditions 
a visual or auditory phantasm is bound to fulfil before it can be regarded 
as indicating primd facie the influence of a discarnate mind. The dis- 
cussion may be best introduced by quoting the words in which Edmund 
Gurney opened it in 1888. 2 The main evidential lines as there laid down 
retain their validity, although the years which have since passed have 
greatly augmented the testimony, and in so doing have illustrated yet other 
tests of true post-mortem communication, — to which we shall presently 

1 See for example Mr. Cameron Grant's case. (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. 
p. 202.) 

2 Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 404-408. 


"It is evident that in alleged cases of apparitions of the dead, the 
point which we have held to distinguish certain apparitions of living 
persons from purely subjective hallucinations is necessarily lacking. 
That point is coincidence between the apparition and some critical 
or exceptional condition of the person who seems to appear; but with 
regard to the dead, we have no independent knowledge of their con- 
dition, and therefore never have the opportunity of observing any such 

" There remain three, and I think only three, conditions which might 
establish a presumption that an apparition or other immediate manifesta- 
tion of a dead person is something more than a mere subjective hallucina- 
tion of the percipient's senses. Either (i) more persons than one might 
be independently affected by the phenomenon; or (2) the phantasm might 
convey information, afterwards discovered to be true, of something which 
the percipient had never known; or (3) the appearance might be that of 
a person whom the percipient himself had never seen, and of whose aspect 
he was ignorant, and yet his description of it might be sufficiently definite 
for identification. But though one or more of these conditions would 
have to be fully satisfied before we could be convinced that any particular 
apparition of the dead had some cause external to the percipient's own 
mind, there is one more general characteristic of the class which is suffi- 
ciently suggestive of such a cause to be worth considering. I mean the 
disproportionate number of cases which occur shortly after the death of 
the person represented. Such a time-relation, if frequently enough 
encountered, might enable us to argue for the objective origin of the 
phenomenon in a manner analogous to that which leads us to conclude 
that many phantasms of the living have an objective (a telepathic) 
origin. For, according to the doctrines of probabilities, a hallucination 
representing a known person would not by chance present a definite 
time-relation to a special cognate event — viz., the death of that person 
— in more than a certain percentage of the whole number of similar 
hallucinations that occur; and if that percentage is decidedly exceeded, 
there is reason to surmise that some other cause than chance — in 
other words, some objective origin for the phantasm — is present." 

But on the other hand, a phantasm representing a person whose death 
is recent is specially likely to arouse interest and, in cases where the death 
is previously known to the percipient, his emotional state may be con- 
sidered a sufficient cause of the hallucination. 

"If, then," Gurney continues, "we are to draw any probable con- 
clusion as to the objective nature of post-mortem appearances and com- 
munications (or of some of them) from the fact of their special frequency 
soon after death, we must confine ourselves to cases where the fact of 
death has been unknown to the percipient at the time of his experience. 
Now, in these days of letters and telegrams, people for the most part hear 
of the deaths of friends and relatives within a very few days, sometimes 
within a very few hours, after the death occurs; so that appearances of 


the sort required would, as a rule, have to follow very closely indeed 
on the death. Have we evidence of any considerable number of such 
cases ? 

" Readers of Phantasms of the Living will know that we have. In 
a number of cases which were treated in that book as examples of tele- 
pathic transference from a dying person, the person was actually dead 
at the time that the percipient's experience occurred; and the inclusion 
of such cases under the title of Phantasms of the Living naturally occa- 
sioned a certain amount of adverse criticism. Their inclusion, it will 
be remembered, required an assumption which cannot by any means be 
regarded as certain. We had to suppose that the telepathic transfer 
took place just before, or exactly at, the moment of death; but that the 
impression remained latent in the percipient's mind, and only after an 
interval emerged into his consciousness, whether as waking vision or as 
dream or in some other form. Now, as a provisional hypothesis, I think 
that this assumption was justified. For in the first place, the moment 
of death is, in time, the central point of a cluster of abnormal experiences 
occurring to percipients at a distance, of which some precede, while others 
follow, the death; it is natural, therefore, to surmise that the same explana- 
tion will cover the whole group, and that the motive force in each of its 
divisions lies in a state of the 'agent' prior to bodily death. In the 
second place, some of the facts of experimental thought-transference 
countenance the view that 'transferred impressions' may be latent for 
a time before the recipient becomes aware of them; and recent discoveries 
with respect to the whole subject of automatism and 'secondary intel- 
ligence' make it seem far less improbable than it would otherwise have 
seemed that telepathy may take effect first on the 'unconscious' part 
of the mind. 1 And in the third place, the period of supposed latency 
has in a good many instances been a period when the person affected 
was in activity, and when his mind and senses were being solicited by 
other things; and in such cases it is specially easy to suppose that the 
telepathic impression did not get the right conditions for rising into con- 
sciousness until a season of silence and recueillement arrived. 2 But though 
the theory of latency has thus a good deal to be said for it, my colleagues 
and I are most anxious not to be supposed to be putting forward as a 
dogma what must be regarded at present merely as a working hypothesis. 
Psychical research is of all subjects the one where it is most important 
to avoid this error, and to keep the mind open for new interpretations of 
the facts. And in the present instance there are certain definite objections 
which may fairly be made to the hypothesis that a telepathic impression 
derived from a dying person may emerge after hours of latency. The 
experimental cases to which I have referred as analogous are few and 
uncertain, and, moreover, in them the period of latency has been measured 

1 In some experimental cases, it will be remembered, the impression takes effect 
through the motor, not the sensory, system of the recipient, as by automatic writing, 
so that he is never directly aware of it at all. 

2 See, for instance, case 500, Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 462. 


by seconds or minutes, not by hours. And though, as I have said, some 
of the instances of apparent delay among the death-cases might be ac- 
counted for by the fact that the percipient's mind or senses needed to 
be withdrawn from other occupations before the manifestation could 
take place, there are other instances where this is not so, and where no 
ground at all appears for connecting the delay with the percipient's 
condition. On the whole, then, the alternative hypothesis — that the 
condition of the phenomenon on the 'agent's' side (be it psychical or 
be it physical) is one which only comes into existence at a distinct 
interval after death, and that the percipient really is impressed at the 
moment, and not before the moment, when he is conscious of the im- 
pression — is one which must be steadily kept in view. 

" So far I have been speaking of cases where the interval between the 
death and the manifestation was so short as to make the theory of latency 
possible. The rule adopted in Phantasms of the Living was that this 
interval must not exceed twelve hours. But we have records of a few 
cases where this interval has been greatly exceeded, and yet where the fact 
of the death was still unknown to the percipient at the time of his 
experience. The theory of latency cannot reasonably be applied to cases 
where weeks or months divide the vision (or whatever it may be) from 
the moment of death, which is the latest at which an ordinary 1 telepath- 
ically transferred idea could have obtained access to the percipient. And 
the existence of such cases — so far as it tends to establish the reality 
of objectively-caused apparitions of the dead — diminishes the objection 
to conceiving that the appearances, etc., which have very shortly followed 
death have had a different causation from those which have coincided 
with or very shortly preceded it. For we shall not be inventing a wholly 
new class for the former cases, but only provisionally shifting them from 
one class to another — to a much smaller and much less well-evidenced 
class, it is true, but one nevertheless for which we have evidence enough 
to justify us in expecting more." 

This, as I conceive, is a sound method of proceeding from ground 
made secure in Phantasms of the Living — and traversed in my own just 
previous chapter — to cases closely analogous, save for that little difference 
in time-relations, that occurrence in the hours which follow, instead of the 
hours which precede, bodily dissolution, which counts for so much in 
our insight into cosmic law. 2 

1 I mean by "ordinary" the classes which are recognised and treated of in Phan- 
tasms of the Living. But if the departed survive, the possibility of thought-trans- 
ference between them and those who remain is of course a perfectly tenable hypothesis. 
"As our telepathic theory is a psychical one, and makes no physical assumptions, 
it would be perfectly applicable (though the name perhaps would be inappropriate) 
to the conditions of disembodied existence." — Phantasms, vol. i. p. 512. 

2 Certain statistics as to these time-relations are given by Edmund Gurney as 
follows {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 408): "The statistics drawn from the first- 
hand records in Phantasms of the Living as to the time-relation of appearances, etc., 


The hypothesis of latency which thus meets us in limine in this inquiry 
will soon be found inadequate to cover the facts. Yet it will be well to 
dwell somewhat more fully upon its possible range. 

If we examine the proportionate number of apparitions observed at 
various periods before and after death, we find that they increase very 
rapidly for the few hours which precede death, and decrease gradually 
during the hours and days which follow, until after about a year's time 
they become merely sporadic. 

Yet one more point must be touched on, to avoid misconception of 
the phrase cited above, that "the moment of death is the centre of a cluster 
of abnormal experiences, of which some precede, while others follow, the 
death." Gurney, of course, did not mean to assume that the act of death 
itself was the cause of all these experiences. Those which occur before 
death may be caused or conditioned, not by the death itself, but by the 
abnormal state, as of coma, delirium, etc., which preceded the death. 
This we say because we have many instances where veridical phantasms 
have coincided with moments of crisis — carriage-accidents and the like 
— occurring to distant agents, but not followed by death. Accordingly 
we find that in almost all cases where a phantasm, apparently veridical, 
has preceded the agent's death, that death was the result of disease and 
not of accident. To this rule there are very few exceptions. There is 
a case given in Phantasms oj the Living (vol. ii. p. 52), where the phan- 
tasm seems on the evidence to have preceded by about half an hour (longi- 
tude allowed for) a sudden death by drowning. In this case the percipient 
was in a Norfolk farmhouse, the drowning man — or agent — was in 
a storm off the island of Tristan d'Acunha; and we have suggested that 
an error of clocks or of observation may account for the discrepancy. In 
another case the death was in a sense a violent one, for it was a suicide; 
but the morbidly excited state of the girl a few hours before death — when 

occurring in close proximity to deaths, are as follows: — In 134 cases the coincidence 
is represented as having been exact, or, when times are specifically stated, close to within 
an hour. In 104 cases it is not known whether the percipient's experience preceded 
or followed the death; such cases cannot be taken account of for our present purpose. 
There remain 78 cases where it appears that there was an interval of more than an 
hour; and of these 38 preceded and 40 followed the death. Of the 38 cases where 
the percipient's experience preceded the death (all of which, of course, took place 
during a time when the "agent" was seriously ill), 19 fell within twenty-four hours 
of the death. Of the 40 cases where the percipient's experience followed the death, 
all followed within an interval of twenty-four hours, and in only one (included by 
mistake) was the twelve hours' interval certainly exceeded, though there are one or 
two others where it is possible that it was slightly exceeded." 


her phantasm was seen — was in itself a state of crisis. But there are 
also a few recorded cases (none of which were cited in Phantasms of the 
Living) where a phantasm or double of some person has been observed 
some days previous to that person's accidental death. The evidence 
obtained in the Census of Hallucinations, however, tended to show that 
Cases of this sort are too few to suggest even primd facie a causal connec- 
tion between the death and the apparition (see Proceedings S.P.R. vol. x. 

P- 33*)- 

I now proceed briefly to review some of the cases where the inter- 
val between death and phantasm has been measurable by minutes or 

It is not easy to get definite cases where the interval has been measur- 
able by minutes; for if the percipient is at a distance from the agent we 
can seldom be sure that the clocks at both places have been correct, and 
correctly observed; while if he is present with the agent we can rarely be 
sure that the phantasm observed is more than a mere subjective hallucina- 
tion. Thus we have several accounts of a rushing sound heard by the 
watcher of a dying man just after his apparent death, or of some kind 
of luminosity observed near his person; but this is just the moment when 
we may suppose some subjective hallucination likely to occur, and if one 
person's senses alone are affected we cannot allow much evidential 
weight to the occurrence. 1 

There are some circumstances, however, in which, in spite of the fact 
that the death is already known, a hallucination occurring shortly after- 
wards may have some slight evidential value. Thus we have a case where 
a lady who knew that her sister had died a few hours previously, but who 
was not herself in any morbidly excited condition, seemed to see some 
one enter her own dining-room, opening and shutting the door. The 
percipient (who had never had any other hallucination) was much aston- 
ished when she found no one in the dining-room; but it did not till some 
time afterwards occur to her that the incident could be in any way 

1 The Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research (vol. i. p. 405) 
contain a case where a physician and his wife, sleeping in separate but adjoining rooms, 
are both of them awakened by a bright light. The physician sees a figure standing 
in the light; his wife, who gets up to see what the light in her husband's room may 
be, does not reach that room till the figure has disappeared. The figure is not clearly 
identified, but has some resemblance to a patient of the physician's, who has died 
suddenly (from hemorrhage) about three hours before, calling for her doctor, who 
did not anticipate this sudden end. Even this resemblance did not strike the per- 
cipient until after he knew of the death, and the defect in recognition weakens the 
case evidentially. 


connected with her recent loss. This reminds us of a case (ii. p. 694 *) 
where the Rev. R. M. Hill sees a tall figure rush into the room, which 
alarms and surprises him, then vanishes before he has time to recognise 
it. An uncle, a tall man, dies about that moment, and it is remarked 
that although Mr. Hill knew his uncle to be ill, the anxiety which he 
may have felt would hardly have given rise to an unrecognised and 
formidable apparition. 

There are cases also where a percipient who has had an apparition of 
a friend shortly after that friend's known death has had veridical hallucina- 
tions at other times, and has never had any hallucination of purely sub- 
jective origin. Such a percipient may naturally suppose that his apparition 
of the departed friend possessed the same veridical character which was 
common to the rest, although it was not per se evidential, since the fact 
of the death was already known. 

For the present, however, it will be better to return to the cases which 
are free from this important primd facie drawback — cases where the per- 
cipient was, at any rate, unaware that the death, which the phantasm 
seemed to indicate, had in fact taken place. 

In the first place, there are a few cases where a percipient is informed 
of a death by a veridical phantasm, and then some hours afterwards a 
similar phantasm differing perhaps in detail, recurs. 

Such was the case of Archdeacon Farler (i. p. 414), who twice during 
one night saw the dripping figure of a friend who, as it turned out, had 
been drowned during the previous day. Even the first appearance was 
several hours after the death, but this we might explain by the latency 
of the impression till a season of quiet. The second appearance may 
have been a kind of recrudescence of the first ; but if the theory of latency 
be discarded, so that the first appearance (if more than a mere chance 
coincidence) is held to depend upon some energy excited by the deceased 
person after death, it would afford some ground for regarding the second 
appearance as also veridical. The figure in this case was once more seen 
a fortnight later, and on this occasion, as Archdeacon Farler informs me, 
in ordinary garb, with no special trace of accident. 

A similar repetition occurs in seven other cases recorded in Phan- 
tasms of the Living. 2 

1 The references in this and the two following pages are to Phantasms of the 

2 See the cases of Major Moncrieff (i. p. 415); of Mr. Keulemans (i. p. 444), where 
the second phantasm was held by the percipient to convey a fresh veridical picture; 
of Mr. Hernaman (i. p. 561), where, however, the agent was alive, though dying, at 


Turning now to the cases where the phantasm is not repeated, but 
occurs some hours after death, let us take a few narratives where the in- 
terval of time is pretty certain, and consider how far the hypothesis of 
latency looks probable in each instance. 

Where there is no actual hallucination, but only a feeling of unique 
malaise or distress following at a few hours' interval on a friend's death 
at a distance, as in Archdeacon Wilson's case (i. p. 280), it is very hard 
to picture to ourselves what has taken place. Some injurious shock 
communicated to the percipient's brain at the moment of the agent's death 
may conceivably have slowly worked itself into consciousness. The delay 
may have been due, so to say, to physiological rather than to psychical 

Next take a case like that of Mrs. Wheatcroft (i. p. 420), or of Mrs. 
Evens (ii. p. 690), or Sister Bertha (quoted below in Appendix VII. F), 
where a definite hallucination of sight or sound occurs some hours after 
the death, but in the middle of the night. It is in a case of this sort that 
we can most readily suppose that a "telepathic impact" received during 
the day has lain dormant until other excitations were hushed, and has 
externalised itself as a hallucination after the first sleep, just as when we 
wake from a first sleep some subject of interest or anxiety, which has been 
thrust out of our thoughts during the day, will often well upwards into 
consciousness with quite a new distinctness and force. But on the other 
hand, in the case (for instance) of Mrs. Teale (ii. p. 693), there is a defer- 
ment of some eight hours, and then the hallucination occurs while the 
percipient is sitting wide awake in the middle of her family. And in one 
of the most remarkable dream-cases in our collection (given in Chapter 
IV.), Mrs. Storie's experience does not resemble the mere emergence of 
a latent impression. It is long and complex, and suggests some sort of 
clairvoyance; but if it be "telepathic clairvoyance," that is, a picture trans- 
ferred from the decedent's mind, then it almost requires us to suppose 
that a post-mortem picture was thus transferred, a view of the accident 
and its consequences fuller than any which could have flashed through 

the time of the appearance; see also the cases of Mrs. Ellis (ii. p. 59); of Mrs. D. (ii. 
p. 467); of Mrs. Fairman (ii. p. 482), and of Mr. F. J. Jones (ii. p. 500), where the 
death was again due to drowning, and the act of dying cannot, therefore, have been 
very prolonged. We may note also Mrs. Reed's case (ii. p. 237), Captain Ayre's 
(ii. p. 256) and Mrs. Cox's (ii. p. 235). In the case of Miss Harriss (ii. p. 117) a 
hallucinatory voice, about the time of the death, but not suggesting the decedent, 
is followed by a dream the next night, which presents the dead person as in the act 
of dying. One or two other cases might be added to this list, and it is plain that the 
matter is one towards which observation should be specially directed. 


the dying man's mind during his moment of sudden and violent death 
from "the striking off of the top of the skull" by a railway train. 

If once we assume that the deceased person's mind could continue to 
act on living persons after his bodily death, then the confused horror of 
the series of pictures which were presented to Mrs. Storie's view — mixed, 
it should be said, with an element of fresh departure which there was nothing 
in the accident itself to suggest — would correspond well enough to what 
one can imagine a man's feelings a few hours after such a death to be. 
This is trespassing, no doubt, on hazardous ground; but if once we admit 
communication from the other side of death as a working hypothesis, 
we must allow ourselves to imagine something as to the attitude of the 
communicating mind, and the least violent supposition will be that that 
mind is still in part at least occupied with the same thoughts which last 
occupied it on earth. It is possible that there may be some interpretation 
of this kind for some of the cases where a funeral scene, or a dead body, 
is what the phantasm presents. There is a remarkable case (i. p. 265) 
[§ 664] where a lady sees the body of a well-known London physician — 
about ten hours after death — lying in a bare unfurnished room (a cot- 
tage hospital abroad). Here the description, as we have it, would certainly 
fit best with some kind of telepathic clairvoyance prolonged after death 
— some power on the deceased person's part to cause the percipient to 
share the picture which might at that moment be occupying his own mind. 

It will be seen that these phenomena are not of so simple a type as 
to admit of our considering them from the point of view of time-relations 
alone. Whatever else, indeed, a "ghost" may be, it is probably one of 
the most complex phenomena in nature. It is a function of two unknown 
variables — the incarnate spirit's sensitivity and the discarnate spirit's 
capacity of self-manifestation. Our attempt, therefore, to study such 
intercourse may begin at either end of the communication — with the 
percipient or with the agent. We shall have to ask, How does the 
incarnate mind receive the message? and we shall have to ask also, 
How does the discarnate mind originate and convey it ? 

Now it is by pressing the former of these two questions that we have, 
I think, the best chance at present of gaining fresh light. So long as we 
are considering the incarnate mind we are, to some extent at least, on 
known ground; and we may hope to discern analogies in some other among 
that mind's operations to that possibly most perplexing of all its opera- 
tions, which consists in taking cognisance of messages from unembodied 
minds, and from an unseen world. I think, therefore, that "the surest 
way, though most about," as Bacon would say, to the comprehension 


of this sudden and startling phenomenon lies in the study of other rare 
mental phenomena which can be observed more at leisure, just as "the 
surest way, though most about," to the comprehension of some blazing 
inaccessible star has lain in the patient study of the spectra of the incan- 
descence of terrestrial substances which lie about our feet. I am in hopes 
that by the study of various forms of subliminal consciousness, subliminal 
faculty, subliminal perception, we may ultimately obtain a conception 
of our own total being and operation which may show us the incarnate 
mind's perception of the discarnate mind's message as no isolated anomaly, 
but an orderly exercise of natural and innate powers, frequently observed 
in action in somewhat similar ways. 

It is, I say, from this human or terrene side that I should prefer, were 
it possible, to study in the first instance all our cases. Could we not only 
share but interpret the percipient's subjective feelings, could we compare 
those feelings with the feelings evoked by ordinary vision or telepathy 
among living men, we might get at a more intimate knowledge of what 
is happening than any observation from outside of the details of an ap- 
parition can supply. But this, of course, is not possible in any systematic 
way; occasional glimpses, inferences, comparisons, are all that we can 
attain to as yet. On the other hand, it is comparatively easy to arrange 
the whole group of our cases in some series depending on their observed 
external character and details. They can, indeed, be arranged in more 
than one series of this kind — the difficulty is in selecting the most in- 
structive. That which I shall here select is in some points arbitrary, 
but it has the advantage of bringing out the wide range of variation in the 
clearness and content of these apparitional communications, here arranged 
mainly in a descending series, beginning with those cases where fullest 
knowledge or purpose is shown, and ending with those where the indica- 
tion of intelligence becomes feeblest, dying away at last into vague sounds 
and sights without recognisable significance. 

But I shall begin by referring to a small group of cases, 1 which I 
admit to be anomalous and non-evidential — for we cannot prove 
that they were .more than subjective experiences — yet which certainly 
should not be lost, filling as they do, in all their grotesqueness, a 
niche in our series otherwise as yet vacant. If man's spirit is separated 
at death from his organism, there must needs be cases where that separa- 
tion, although apparently, is not really complete. There must be sub- 
jective sensations corresponding to the objective external facts of apparent 
death and subsequent resuscitation. Nor need it surprise those who may 

1 See Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 305; Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 
180; ibid. p. 194. 


have followed my general argument, if those subjective sensations should 
prove to be dreamlike and fantastic. Here, as so often in our inquiries, 
the very oddity and unexpectedness of the details — the absence of that 
solemnity which one would think the dying man's own mind would have 
infused into the occasion — may point to the existence of some reality 
beneath the grotesque symbolism of the transitional dream. 

The transitional dream, I call it, for it seems to me not improbable 
— remote though such a view may be from current notions — that the 
passage from one state to another may sometimes be accompanied with 
some temporary lack of adjustment between experiences taking place 
in such different environments — between the systems of symbolism be- 
longing to the one and to the other state. But the reason why I refer 
to the cases in this place is that here we have perhaps our nearest pos- 
sible approach to the sensations of the spirit which is endeavouring to 
manifest itself; — an inside view of a would-be apparition. The narratives 
suggest, moreover, that spirits recently freed from the body may enjoy a 
fuller perception of earthly scenes than it is afterwards possible to retain, 
and that thus the predominance of apparitions of the recently dead may 
be to some extent explained. 

We have, indeed, very few cases where actual apparitions give evidence 
of any continuity in the knowledge possessed by a spirit of friends on earth. 
Such evidence is, naturally enough, more often furnished by automatic 
script or utterance. But there is one case (which I give in Appendix 
VII. A) where a spirit is recorded as appearing repeatedly — in guardian- 
angel fashion — and especially as foreseeing and sympathising with the 
survivor's future marriage. 

Among repeated apparitions this case at present stands almost alone; 
its parallels will be found when we come to deal with the persistent " con- 
trols," or alleged communicating spirits, which influence trance-utterance 
or automatic script. A case bearing some resemblance to it, however, is 
given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 233, the main difference being 
that the repeated communications are there made in dream, and in Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 450, [714 A], is recorded another case, where 
the deceased person seems to make repeated efforts to impress on sur- 
vivors a wish prompted by continued affection. 

Less uncommon are the cases where an apparition, occurring singly 
and not repeated, indicates a continued knowledge of the affairs of earth. 
That knowledge, indeed, runs mainly, as we shall presently see, in two 
directions. There is often knowledge of some circumstance connected 
with the deceased person's own death, as the appearance of his body after 


dissolution, or the place of its temporary deposit or final burial. And 
there is often knowledge of the impending or actual death of some friend 
of the deceased person's. On the view here taken of the gradual passage 
from the one environment into the other, both these kinds of knowledge 
seem probable enough. I think it likely that some part of the conscious- 
ness after death may for some time be dreamily occupied with the physical 
scene. And similarly, when some surviving friend is gradually verging 
towards the same dissolution, the fact may be readily perceptible in the 
spiritual world. When the friend has actually died, the knowledge which 
his predecessor may Jhave of his transition is knowledge appertaining to 
events of the next world as much as of this. 

But apart from this information, acquired perhaps on the borderland 
between two states, apparitions do sometimes imply a perception of more 
definitely terrene events, such as the moral crises (as marriage, grave quar- 
rels, or impending crimes) of friends left behind on earth. In Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 25 [716 A], is a case of impressive warning, in which the 
phantom was seen by two persons, one of whom had already had a less 
evidential experience. 

In another case of similar type, 1 the message, while felt by the percipient 
to be convincing and satisfactory, was held too private to be communi- 
cated in detail. It is plain that just in the cases where the message is 
most intimately veracious, the greatest difficulty is likely to be felt as to 
making it known to strangers. 

I have already given a case (Appendix VII. A) where a departed spirit 
seems to show a sympathetic anticipation of a marriage some time before 
it is contemplated. In another case {Journal S.P.R., vol. v. p. 10), the 
percipient, Mrs. V., describes a vision of a mother's form suspended, as 
it were, in a church where her son is undergoing the rite of confirmation. 
That vision, indeed, might have been purely subjective, as Mrs. V. was 
familiar with the departed mother's aspect; though value is given to it 
by the fact that Mrs. V. has had other experiences which included 
evidential coincidences. 

From these instances of knowledge shown by the departed of events 
which seem wholly terrene, I pass to knowledge of events which seem 
in some sense more nearly concerned with the spirit-world. We have, 
as already hinted, a considerable group of cases where a spirit seems to 
be aware of the impending death of a survivor. 2 In some few of those 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 236 [716 B]. 

2 See for instance Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 20; the same, vol. xi. p. 429 and 
Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 208 [717 A, B and C]. 


cases the foreknowledge is entirely inexplicable by any such foresight as 
we mortals can imagine, but in the case given in Appendix VII. B, though 
the family did not foresee the death, a physician might, for aught we know, 
have been able to anticipate it. However explained, the case is one of 
the best-attested, and in itself one of the most remarkable, that we 

I place next by themselves a small group of cases which have the in- 
terest of uniting the group just recounted, where the spirit anticipates 
the friend's departure, with the group next to be considered, where the 
spirit welcomes the friend already departed from earth. This class forms 
at the same time a natural extension of the clairvoyance of the dying ex- 
emplified in some " reciprocal" cases (e.g. in the case of Miss W., where 
a dying aunt has a vision of her little niece who sees an apparition of her 
at the same time; see Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 253). Just as 
the approaching severance of spirit from body there aided the spirit to 
project its observation among incarnate spirits at a distance upon this 
earth, so here does that same approaching severance enable the dying 
person to see spirits who are already in the next world. It is not very 
uncommon for dying persons to say, or to indicate when beyond speech, 
that they see spirit friends apparently near them. But, of course, such 
vision becomes evidential only when the dying person is unaware that the 
friend whose spirit he sees has actually departed, or is just about to depart, 
from earth. Such a conjuncture must plainly be rare; it is even rather 
surprising that these "Peak in Darien" cases, as Miss Cobbe has termed 
them in a small collection which she made some years ago, should be 
found at all. We can add to Miss Cobbe's cases two of fair attestation. 
{Proceedings S.P. R., vol. iii. p. 93, and vol. xiv. p. 288 [718 A and B] ). 

From this last group, then, there is scarcely a noticeable transition 
to the group where departed spirits manifest their knowledge that some 
friend who survived them has now passed on into their world. That 
such recognition and welcome does in fact take place, later evidence, 
drawn especially from trance-utterances, will give good ground to believe. 
Only rarely, however, will such welcome — taking place as it does in the 
spiritual world — be reflected by apparitions in this. When so reflected, 
it may take different forms, from an actual utterance of sympathy, as 
from a known departed friend, down to a mere silent presence, perhaps 
inexplicable except to those who happen to have known some long pre- 
deceased friend of the decedent's. 

I quote in Appendix VII. C one of the most complete cases of this 
type, which was brought to us by the Census of Hallucinations. 


There are other cases more or less analogous to this. In one 1 the 
apparition of a dying mother brings the news of her own death and that 
her baby is living. In another 2 a mother sees a vision of her son being 
drowned and also an apparition of her own dead mother, who tells her 
of the drowning. In this case, the question may be raised as to whether 
the second figure seen may not have been, so to say, substitutive — a symbol 
in which the percipient's own mind clothed a telepathic impression of the 
actual decedent's passage from earth. Such a view might perhaps be 
supported by some anomalous cases where news of the death is brought 
by the apparition of a person still living, who, nevertheless, is not by any 
normal means aware of the death. (See the case of Mrs. T., already 
given in Appendix IV. E.) 

But such an explanation is not always possible. In the case of Mrs. 
Bacchus, 3 for instance, both the deceased person and the phantasmal figure 
were previously unknown to the percipient. This case — the last which 
Edmund Gurney published — comes from an excellent witness. The 
psychical incident which it seems to imply, while very remote from popular 
notions, would be quite in accordance with the rest of our present series. 
A lady dies ; her husband in the spirit-world is moved by her arrival ; and 
the direction thus given to his thought projects a picture of him, clothed 
as in the days when he lived with her, into visibility in the house where 
her body is lying. We have thus a dream-like recurrence to earthly mem- 
ories, prompted by a revival of those memories which had taken place 
in the spiritual world. The case is midway between a case of welcome 
and a case of haunting. 

I now come to a considerable group of cases where the departed spirit 
shows a definite knowledge of some fact connected with his own earth- 
life, his death, or subsequent events connected with that death. The 
knowledge of subsequent events, as of the spread of the news of his death, 
or as to the place of his burial, is, of course, a greater achievement (so 
to term it) than a mere recollection of facts known to him in life, and ought 
strictly, on the- plan of this series, to be first illustrated. But it will be 
seen that all these stages of knowledge cohere together; and their con- 
nection can better be shown if I begin at the lower stage, — of mere earth- 
memory. Now here again, as so often already, we shall have to wait 
for automatic script and the like to illustrate the full extent of the deceased 
person's possible memory. Readers of the utterances, for instance, of 

1 Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. p. 214 [719 A]. 

2 Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 449 [719 B]. 

3 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 422-26 [§ 720]. 


"George Pelham" (see Chapter IX.) will know how full and accurate 
may be these recollections from beyond the grave. Mere apparitions, 
such as those with which we are now dealing, can rarely give more than 
one brief message, probably felt by the deceased to be of urgent importance. 

A well-attested case where the information communicated in a vision 
proved to be definite, accurate, and important to the survivors is given 
in Appendix VII. D. In the same Appendix another case in this group 
is also quoted. It illustrates the fact that the cases of deepest interest 
are often the hardest for the inquirer to get hold of. 

In this connection I may refer again to Mrs. Storie's dream of the 
death of her brother in a railway accident, given in Chapter IV. While 
I think that Gurney was right — in the state of the evidence at the time 
Phantasms 0} the Living was written — in doing his best to bring this 
incident under the head of telepathic clairvoyance, I yet feel that the know- 
ledge since gained makes it impossible for me to adhere to that view. I 
cannot regard the visionary scene as wholly reflected from the mind of 
the dying man. I cannot think, in the first place, that the vision of Mr. 
Johnstone — interpolated with seeming irrelevance among the details 
of the disaster — did only by accident coincide with the fact that that 
gentleman really was in the train, and with the further fact that it was 
he who communicated the fact of Mr. Hunter's death to Mr. and Mrs. 
Storie. I must suppose that the communicating intelligence was aware 
of Mr. Johnstone's presence, and at least guessed that upon him (as a 
clergyman) that task would naturally fall. Nor can I pass over as purely 
symbolic so important a part of the vision as the second figure, and 
the scrap of conversation, which seemed to be half heard. I therefore 
consider that the case falls among those where a friend recently departed 
appears in company of some other friend, dead some time before. 

We have thus seen the spirit occupied shortly after death with various 
duties or engagements, small or great, which it has incurred during life 
on earth. Such ties seem to prompt or aid its action upon its old surround- 
ings. And here an important reflection occurs. Can we prepare such 
a tie for the departing spirit? Can we create for it some welcome and 
helpful train of association which may facilitate the self-manifestation 
which many souls appear to desire ? I believe that we can to some extent 
do this. At an early stage of our collection, Edmund Gurney was struck 
by the unexpectedly large proportion of cases where the percipient in- 
formed us that there had been a compact between himself and the deceased 
person that whichever passed away first should try to appear to the other. 
"Considering," he adds, "what an extremely small number of persons 


make such a compact, compared with those who do not, it is difficult to 
resist the conclusion that its existence has a certain efficacy." 

Let us now review the compact-cases given in Phantasms 0} the Living 
and consider how far they seem to indicate ante-mortem or post-mortem 
communication. The twelve cases there recorded are such as fell, or may 
have fallen, within twelve hours of the death. In three of these cases, 
the agent whose phantasm appeared was certanly still alive. In most of 
the other cases the exact time relation is obscure; in a few of them there is 
strong probability that the agent was already dead. The inference will be 
that the existence of a promise or compact may act effectively both on the 
subliminal self before death and also probably on the spirit after death. 

This conclusion is confirmed by several other cases, one of which is 
given in Appendix VII. E. This case suggests an important practical 
reflection. When a compact to appear, if possible, after death is made, 
it should be understood that the appearance need not be to the special 
partner in the compact, but to any one whom the agent can succeed in 
impressing. It is likely enough that many such attempts, which have 
failed on account of the surviving friend's lack of appropriate sensi- 
tivity, might have succeeded if the agent had tried to influence some one 
already known to be capable of receiving these impressions. 1 There is 
a case given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 440, in which a lady, 
having made a compact with her husband and also with a friend, her 
phantom is seen after her death by her husband and daughter and the 
latter's nurse, collectively ; but not by the friend, who was living elsewhere. 

Again, we cannot tell how long the spirit may continue the effort, 
or, so to say, renew the experiment. In a case recorded in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. x. p. 378, the compact is fulfilled after a space of five years. 
In another case, 2 there had been no formal compact; but there is an 
attempt to express gratitude on an anniversary of death ; and this implies 
the same kind of mindful effort as the fulfilment of a definite promise. 

I have now traced certain post-mortem manifestations which reveal 
a recollection of events known at death, and also a persistence of purpose 
in carrying out intentions formed before death. In this next group I 
shall trace the knowledge of the departed a little further, and shall discuss 
some cases where they appear cognisant of the aspect of their bodies after 
death, or of the scenes in which those bodies are temporarily deposited 
or finally laid. Such knowledge may appear trivial, — unworthy the atten- 

1 The cases recorded in Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 216, and Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. x. p. 263 [727 A and B] may be regarded as deflected fulfilments. 

2 Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. p. 383. See also ibid. p. 371 and vol. viii. p. 214 
[728 A and B and § 726]. 


tion of spirits transported into a higher world. But it is in accordance 
with the view of a gradual transference of interests and perceptions, — 
a period of intermediate confusion, such as may follow especially upon 
a death of a sudden or violent kind, or perhaps upon a death which in- 
terrupts very strong affections. 

Thus we have already (Appendix VII. B) encountered one striking 
case of this type, — the scratch on the cheek, perceived by the departed 
daughter, as we may conjecture, by reason of the close sympathy which 
united her to the mother who was caring for her remains. 

There are also two cases closely resembling each other, though from 
percipients in widely different parts of the world, where a clairvoyant 
vision seems to be presented of a tranquil death-chamber. In that of Mr. 
Hector of Valencia, South Australia (see Phantasms 0) the Living, vol. i. 
p. 353), the percipient sees in a dream his father dying in the room he 
usually occupied, with a candle burning on a chair by his bed; and the 
father is found dead in the morning, with a candle by his bedside in the 
position seen in the dream. There is not, however, in this case any sure 
indication that the dead or dying person was cognisant of his own body's 
aspect or surroundings. There may have been a clairvoyant excursion 
on the percipient's part, evoked by some impulse from the agent which 
did not itself develop into distinctness. 1 

But in certain cases of violent death there seems to have been an in- 
tention on the deceased person's part to show the condition in which his 
body is left. Such was Mrs. Storie's dream, or rather series of visions 
referred to earlier in this chapter. Such are the cases given in Phantasms 
0) the Living, vol. i. p. 365 [429 A], and Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. (1885) 
p. 95 [§ 730]. Here, too, may be placed two cases — those of Dr. Bruce 
(in Appendix IV. D) and Miss Hall (Journal S.P.R., vol. vii. p. 173 
[731 A]) — where there are successive pictures of a death and the sub- 
sequent arrangement of the body. The milieux of the percipients, the 
nature of the deaths, are here again totally disparate; yet we seem to 
see the same unknown laws producing effects closely similar. 

In Dr. Bruce's case one might interpret the visions as coming to the 
percipient through the mind of his wife, who was present at the scene of 
the murder. But this explanation would be impossible in Miss Hall's 
case. Rather it seems as though some telepathic link, set up between 
the dying brother and the sister, had been maintained after death until 
all duties had been fulfilled to the departed. The case reminds one of 
the old Homeric notions of the restless appeal of unburied comrades. 
1 For the other case see Phantasms of the Living, vol. i, p. 265. 


In the case of Mrs. Green (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 420 [429 D] ), 
we come across an interesting problem. Two women are drowned under 
very peculiar circumstances. A friend has apparently a clairvoyant vision 
of the scene, yet not at the moment when it occurred, but many hours 
afterwards, and about the time when another person, deeply interested, 
heard of the death. It is therefore possible to suppose that the apparently 
clairvoyant scene was in reality impressed telepathically on the percipient 
by another living mind. I think, however, that both the nature of the 
vision and certain analogies, which will appear later in our argument, 
point to a different view, involving an agency both of the dead and of the 
living. I conjecture that a current of influence may be started by a de- 
ceased person, which, however, only becomes strong enough to be per- 
ceptible to its object when reinforced by some vivid current of emotion 
arising in living minds. I do not say that this is yet provable; yet the 
hint may be of value when the far-reaching interdependencies of telepathy 
between the two worlds come to be better understood. 

Two singular cases in this group remain, where the departed spirit, 
long after death, seems preoccupied with the spot where his bones are laid. 
The first of these cases (Journal S.P.R., vol. vi. p.230 [733 A]) approaches 
farce; the second (in which the skeleton of a man who had probably been 
murdered about forty years before was discovered by means of a dream; 
see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 35), stands alone among our narratives 
in the tragedy which follows on the communication. Mr. Podmore in 
an article in the same volume (p. 303) suggests other theories to account 
for this case without invoking the agency of the dead; but to me the least 
impossible explanation is still the notion that the murdered man's dreams 
harked back after all those years to his remote unconsecrated grave. I 
may refer further to another case (in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 155, 
footnote) where feelings of horror and depression "were constantly experi- 
enced in a room over which a baby's body was afterwards found. This 
case makes, perhaps, for another explanation — depending not so much 
on any continued influence of the departed spirit as on some persistent 
influence inhering in the bones themselves — deposited under circum- 
stances of terror or anguish, and possibly in some way still radiating a 
malignant memory. Bizarre as this interpretation looks, we shall find 
some confirmation of such a possibility in our chapter on Possession. Yet 
another case belonging to the same group (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. 
p. 418) supplies a variant on this view; suggesting, as Edward Gurney 
has remarked, the local imprintation of a tragic picture, by whom and 
upon what we cannot tell. 

I think it well to suggest even these wild conjectures; so long as they 


are understood to be conjectures and nothing more. I hold it probable 
that those communications, of which telepathy from one spirit to another 
forms the most easily traceable variety, are in reality infinitely varied and 
complex, and show themselves from time to time in forms which must 
for long remain quite beyond our comprehension. 

The next class of cases in this series well illustrates this unexpected- 
ness. It has only been as the result of a gradual accumulation of con- 
cordant cases that I have come to believe there is some reality in the bizarre 
supposition that the departed spirit is sometimes specially aware of the 
time at which news of his death is about to reach some given friend. 1 Proof 
of such knowledge on his part is rendered harder by the alternative pos- 
sibility that the friend may by clairvoyance become aware of a letter in 
his own proximity. As was shown in Phantasms of the Living, there is 
some evidence for such clairvoyance even in cases where the letter seen 
is quite unimportant. 

Again, there are cases where the percipient states that a cloud of un- 
reasonable depression fell upon him about the time of his friend's death 
at a distance, and continued until the actual news arrived; when, instead 
of becoming intensified, it lifted suddenly. In one or two such cases 
there was an actual presence or apparition, which seemed to hang about 
until the news arrived, and then disappeared. Or, on the other hand, 
there is sometimes a happy vision of the departed preluding the news, 
as though to prepare the percipient's mind for the shock (Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 90 [735 A] ). The suggested inference is that in such 
cases the spirit's attention is more or less continuously directed to the 
survivor until the news reaches him. This does not, of course, explain 
how the spirit learns as to the arrival of the news ; yet it makes that piece 
of knowledge seem a less isolated thing. 

Having thus referred to a number of cases where the apparition shows 
varying degrees of knowledge or memory, I pass on to the somewhat 
commoner type, where the apparition lacks the power or the impulse to 
communicate any message much more definite than that all-important 
one — of his own continued life and love. These cases, nevertheless, 
might be subdivided on many lines. Each apparition, even though it 
be momentary, is a phenomenon complex in more ways than our minds 
can follow. We must look for some broad line of demarcation, which may 
apply to a great many different incidents, while continuing to some extent 

1 For cases illustrating this, see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 409 [§ 734]; also 
Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 220; ibid. p. 218; Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 
690; and Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. p. 373 [§ 736 and 736 A, B and C], 


the series which we have already been descending — from knowledge 
and purpose on the deceased person's part down to vagueness and ap- 
parent automatism. 

Such a division — gradual, indeed, but for that very reason the more 
instructive — exists between personal and local apparitions ; between 
manifestations plainly intended to impress the minds of certain definite 
survivors and manifestations in accustomed haunts, some of which, indeed, 
may be destined to impress survivors, but which degenerate and disin- 
tegrate into sights and sounds too meaningless to prove either purpose 
or intelligence. 

Let us look, then, for these characteristics, not expecting, of course, 
that our series will be logically simple; for it must often happen that the 
personal and local impulses will be indistinguishable, as when the desired 
percipient is inhabiting the familiar home. But we may begin with some 
cases where the apparition has shown itself in some scene altogether 
strange to the deceased person. 

We have had, of course, some cases of this type already. Such was 
the case of the apparition with the red scratch (Appendix VII. B); such 
too was the apparition in the Countess Kapnist's carriage (Appendix 
VII. E). Such cases, indeed, occur most frequently — and this fact is 
itself significant — among the higher and more developed forms of mani- 
festation. Among the briefer, less-developed apparitions with which 
we have now to deal, invasions by the phantasm of quite unknown 
territory are relatively few. I will begin by referring to a curious case, 
where the impression given is that of a spiritual presence which seeks 
and finds the percipient, but is itself too confused for coherent com- 
munication (Mrs. Lightfoot's case, Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 
453 [429 B] ). It will be seen that this narrative is thoroughly in accord- 
ance with previous indications of a state of posthumous bewilderment 
supervening before the spirit has adjusted its perceptions to the new 

In cases like Mrs. Lightfoot's, where the percipient's surroundings 
are unknown to the deceased person, and especially in cases where the 
intimation of a death reaches the percipient when at sea, there is plainly 
nothing except the percipient's own personality to guide the spirit in his 
search. We have several narratives of this type. In one of these — 
Archdeacon Farler's, already referred to (p. 227), the apparition appears 
twice, the second appearance at least being subsequent to the death. It 
is plain that if in such a case the second apparition conveys no fresh in- 
telligence, we cannot prove that it is more than a subjective recrudescence 


of the first. Yet analogy is in favour of its veridical character, since we 
have cases where successive manifestations do bring fresh knowledge, 
and seem to show a continued effort to communicate. 1 

Then, again, there are auditory cases where the phantasmal speech 
has occurred in places not known to the deceased person. (Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 90, and vol. v. p. 455.) 

One specially impressive characteristic of apparitions (as has been 
already remarked) is their occasional collectivity — the fact that more 
percipients than one sometimes see or hear the phantasmal figure or voice 
simultaneously. When one is considering the gradual decline in definite- 
ness and apparent purpose from one group of apparitions to another, 
it is natural to ask whether this characteristic — in my view so important 
— is found to accompany especially the higher, more intelligent mani- 

I cannot find that this is so. On the contrary, it is, I think, in cases 
of mere haunting that we oftenest find that the figure is seen by several 
persons at once, or else (a cognate phenomenon) by several persons suc- 
cessively. I know not how to explain this apparent tendency. Could 
we admit the underlying assumptions, it would suit the view that the 
"haunting" spirits are "earthbound," and thus somehow nearer to matter 
than spirits more exalted. Yet instances of collectivity are scattered 
through all classes of apparitions ; and the irregular appearance of a char- 
acteristic which seems to us so fundamental affords another lesson how 
great may be the variety of inward mechanism in cases which to us might 
seem constructed on much the same type. 

I pass on to a group of cases which are both personal and local; 
although the personal element in most of them — the desire to manifest 
to the friend — may seem more important than the local element — the 
impulse to revisit some accustomed haunt. 

In the case which I shall now cite the deceased person's image is seen 
simultaneously by several members of his own household, in his own house. 
Note the analogy to a collective crystal vision. 2 

The account is taken from Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 213. 
It is given by Mr. Charles A. W. Lett, of the Military and Royal Naval 
Club, Albemarle Street, W. 

1 See for instance Journal S.P.R., vol. vii. p. 173. 

2 This analogy suggests itself still more forcibly in the remarkable case recorded 
in Journal S.P.R., vol. xii. p. 17. Here the visions, seen in a mirror, were perceived 
simultaneously, though not quite in the same way, by four witnesses, and lasted for 
an appreciable length of time. 


December $rd, 1885. 

On the 5th April 1873 m y wife's father, Captain Towns, died at his 
residence, Cranbrook, Rose Bay, near Sidney, N. S. Wales. About six 
weeks after his death my wife had occasion, one evening about nine o'clock, 
to go to one of the bedrooms in the house. She was accompanied by a 
young lady, Miss Berthon, and as they entered the room — the gas was 
burning all the time — they were amazed to see, reflected as it were on 
the polished surface of the wardrobe, the image of Captain Towns. It 
was barely half figure, the head, shoulders, and part of the arms only 
showing — in fact, it was like an ordinary medallion portrait, but life- 
size. The face appeared wan and pale, as it did before his death, and 
he wore a kind of grey flannel jacket, in which he had been accustomed 
to sleep. Surprised and half alarmed at what they saw, their first idea 
was that a portrait had been hung in the room, and that what they saw 
was its reflection; but there was no picture of the kind. 

Whilst they were looking and wondering, my wife's sister, Miss Towns, 
came into the room, and before either of the others had time to speak 
she exclaimed, " Good gracious! Do you see papa?" One of the house- 
maids happened to be passing downstairs at the moment, and she was 
called in, and asked if she saw anything, and her reply was, "Oh, miss! 
the master." Graham — Captain Towns' old body servant — was then 
sent for, and he also immediately exclaimed, "Oh, Lord save us! Mrs. 
Lett, it's the Captain!" The butler was called, and then Mrs. Crane, 
my wife's nurse, and they both said what they saw. Finally, Mrs. Towns 
was sent for, and, seeing the apparition, she advanced towards it with 
her arm extended as if to touch it, and as she passed her hand over the 
panel of the wardrobe the figure gradually faded away, and never again 
appeared, though the room was regularly occupied for a long time after. 

These are the simple facts of the case, and they admit of no doubt; 
no kind of intimation was given to any of the witnesses; the same ques- 
tion was put to each one as they came into the room, and the reply was 
given without hesitation by each. It was by the merest accident that I 
did not see the apparition. I was in the house at the time, but did not 
hear when I was called. C. A. W. Lett. 

We, the undersigned, having read the above statement, certify that 
it is strictly accurate, as we both were witnesses of the apparition. 

Sara Lett. 
Sibbie Smyth (nee Towns). 

Gurney writes : — 

Mrs. Lett assures me that neither she nor her sister ever experienced 
a hallucination of the senses on any other occasion. She is positive that 
the recognition of the appearance on the part of each of the later wit- 
nesses was independent, and not due to any suggestion from the persons 
already in the room. 

There is another collective case which is noticeable from the fact that 
the departed spirit appears to influence two persons at a distance from 


each other in a concordant way, so that one of them becomes conscious 
of the appearance to the other. 1 Compare with this the incident given 
at the end of Appendix VII. G, when Miss Campbell has a vision of her 
friend seeing an apparition at a time when this is actually occurring. 2 

The case given in Appendix VII. F — which comes from excellent 
informants — is one of those which correspond most nearly to what one 
would desire in a posthumous message. I may refer also to General Camp- 
bell's case (in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 476) in which a long continued 
series of unaccountable noises and an apparition twice seen by a child in 
the house suggested to the narrator the agency of his dead wife. The 
case, which depends for its evidential force on a great mass of detail, is 
too long for me to quote; but it is worth study, as is any case where there 
seems evidence of persistent effort to manifest, meeting with one knows 
not what difficulty. It may be that in such a story there is nothing but 
strange coincidence, or it may be that from records of partially successful 
effort, renewed often and in ambiguous ways, we shall hereafter learn 
something of the nature of that curtain of obstruction which now seems 
so arbitrary in its sudden lifting, its sudden fall. 

I will conclude this group by referring the reader to three cases closely 
similar, all well attested, and all of them capable of explanation either on 
local or personal grounds. In the first (Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. 
p. 619 [744 A] ) an apparition is seen by two persons in a house in 
Edinburgh, a few hours before the death of a lady who had lived there, 
and whose body was to be brought back to it. In the second (Proceed- 
ings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 57 [744 B] ) the dead librarian haunts his library, 
but in the library are members of his old staff. In the third (Phantasms 
of the Living, vol. i. p. 212 [§744]), the dead wife loiters round her 
husband's tomb, but near it passes a gardener who had been in her 

In this last case the apparition was seen about seven and a half hours 
after the death. This, as Gurney remarked, makes it still more difficult 
to regard the case as a telepathic impression transmitted at the moment 
of death, and remaining latent in the mind of the percipient. The in- 
cident suggests rather that Bard, the gardener, had come upon Mrs. de 

1 See the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, vol. i. p. 446 
[74i A]. 

2 In the case recorded in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 173 [§ 742], the decedent 
would appear to be satisfying both a local and a personal attraction. See also the 
cases given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 93, and vol. v. p. 437 [742 A], which 
are somewhat similar. 


Freville's spirit, so to say, unawares. One cannot imagine that she 
specially wished him to see her, and to see her engaged in what seems 
so needless and undignified a retracing of currents of earthly thought. 
Rather this seems a rudimentary haunting — an incipient lapse into 
those aimless, perhaps unconscious, reappearances in familiar spots 
which may persist (as it would seem) for many years after death. 

A somewhat similar case is that of Colonel Crealock (in Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. v. p. 432) where a soldier who had been dead some hours was 
seen by his superior officer in camp at night rolling up and taking away 
his bed. 

It is, indeed, mainly by dwelling on these intermediate cases, between 
a message-bringing apparition and a purposeless haunt, that we have 
most hope of understanding the typical haunt which, while it has been 
in a sense the most popular of all our phenomena, is yet to the careful 
inquirer one of the least satisfactory. One main evidential difficulty 
generally lies in identifying the haunting figure, in finding anything to 
connect the history of the house with the vague and often various sights 
and sounds which perplex or terrify its flesh and blood inhabitants. We 
must, at any rate, rid ourselves of the notion that some great crime or 
catastrophe is always to be sought as the groundwork of a haunt of this 
kind. To that negative conclusion our cases concordantly point us. 1 
The apparition is most often seen by a stranger, several months after 
the death, with no apparent reason for its appearance at that special 
time. This last point is of interest in considering the question whether 
the hallucinatory picture could have been projected from any still incar- 
nate mind. In one case — the vision of the Bishop of St. Brieuc (given 
in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. p. 460), there was such a special reason 
— the Bishop's body, unknown to the percipient, was at that moment 
being buried at the distance of a few miles. Mr. Podmore suggests 
(op. ciL, yol- vi. p. 301) that it was from the minds of the living 
mourners that the Bishop's phantasm was generated. That hypothesis 
may have its portion of truth; the surrounding emotion may have been 
one of the factors which made the apparition possible. But the assump- 
tion that it was the only admissible factor — that the departed Bishop's 

1 See, however, Sir Arthur Beecher's case (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. no) 
where there was at least a rumour of some crime. In Mrs. M.'s case, too (Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 178) and Mrs. Pennee's (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 60) there 
is some indication of past troubles in which the percipients, of course, were in no way 
concerned. But in no other cases has there been anything, as far as we know, which 
could trouble the departed spirit with importunate memories of his earthly home. 


own possible agency must be set aside altogether — lands us, I think, 
in difficulties greater than those which we should thus escape. The 
reader who tries to apply it to the apparitions quoted in my earlier 
groups will find himself in a labyrinth of complexity. Still more will 
this be the case in dealing with the far fuller and more explicit motor 
communications, by automatic writing or speech, which we shall have 
to discuss in the two next chapters. Unless the actual evidence be dis- 
allowed in a wholesale manner, we shall be forced, I think, to admit 
the continued action of the departed as a main element in these 

I do not say as the only element. I myself hold, as already implied, 
that the thought and emotion of living persons does largely intervene, as 
aiding or conditioning the independent action of the departed. I even 
believe that it is possible that, say, an intense fixation of my own mind on 
a departed spirit may aid that spirit to manifest at a special moment — 
and not even to me, but to a percipient more sensitive than myself. 
In the boundless ocean of mind innumerable currents and tides shift with 
the shifting emotion of each several soul. 

But now we are confronted by another possible element in these vaguer 
classes of apparitions, harder to evaluate even than the possible action 
of incarnate minds. I mean the possible results of past mental action, 
which, for aught we know, may persist in some perceptible manner, with- 
out fresh reinforcement, just as the results of past bodily action persist. 
This question leads to the still wider question of retrocognition, and of 
the relation of psychical phenomena to time generally — a problem whose 
discussion cannot be attempted here. 1 Yet we must remember that such 
possibilities exist; they may explain certain phenomena into which little 
of fresh intelligence seems to enter, as, for instance, the alleged persistence, 
perhaps for years, of meaningless sounds in a particular room or house. 

And since we are coming now to cases into which this element of mean- 
ingless sound will enter largely, it seems right to begin their discussion 
with a small group of cases where there is evidence for the definite agency 
of some dying or deceased person in connection with inarticulate sounds, 
or I should rather say of the connection of some deceased person with 
the sounds; since the best explanation may perhaps be that they are sounds 
0} welcome — before or after actual death — corresponding to those appari- 
tions of welcome of which we have already had specimens. One of our 

1 For a discussion of this problem, illustrated by a large number of cases, see 
my article on "Retrocognition and Precognition" in the Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. 
PP- 334-593- 


cases (see Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 639 [§ 747] ) is remarkable 
in that the auditory hallucination — a sound as of female voices gently 
singing — was heard by five persons, by four of them, as it seems, inde- 
pendently, and in two places, on different sides of the house. At the 
same time, one person — the Eton master whose mother had just died, 
and who was therefore presumably in a frame of mind more prone to 
hallucination than the physician, matron, friend, or servants who actually 
did hear the singing — himself heard nothing at all. In this case the 
physician felt no doubt that Mrs. L. was actually dead; and in fact it 
was during the laying out of the body that the sounds occurred. 

I have already discussed (Chapter VI.) the nature of these phantasmal 
sounds; — nor is it contrary to our analogies that the person most deeply 
concerned in the death should in this case fail to hear them. But the 
point on which I would here lay stress is that phantasmal sounds — even 
non-articulate sounds — may be as clear a manifestation of personality 
as phantasmal figures. Among non-articulate noises music is, of course, 
the most pleasing; but sounds, for instance, which imitate the work of a 
carpenter's shop, may be equally human and intelligent. In some of 
the cases of this class we see apparent attempts of various kinds to simu- 
late sounds such as men and women — or manufactured, as opposed 
to natural, objects — are accustomed to produce. To claim this humanity, 
to indicate this intelligence, seems the only motive of sounds of this 
kind. 1 

These sounds, in their rudimentary attempt at showing intelligence, 
are about on a level with the exploits of the "Poltergeist," where coals 
are thrown about, water spilt, and so forth. Poltergeist phenomena, 
however, seldom coincide with the ordinary phenomena of a haunt. We 
have one remarkable case (Journal S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 280-84 [868 B] ) 
where Poltergeist phenomena coincide with a death, and a few cases 
where they are supposed to follow on a death; but, as a rule, where 
figures appear there are no movements; and where there are move- 
ments no apparition is seen. If alleged Poltergeist phenomena are 
always fraudulent, there would be nothing to be surprised at here. If, 
as I suspect, they are sometimes genuine, their dissociation from visual 
hallucinations may sometimes afford us a hint of value. 

1 See, however, Mrs. Sidgwick's remarks (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. pp. 79-80), 
as to the rarity of any indication of intelligence in such sounds, and the possibility 
of reading more intelligence into them than they really possess. There is now, 
of course, more evidence as to these sounds than there was at the date of Mrs. 
Sidgwick's paper (1885). 


But after Poltergeists have been set aside, — after a severe line has 
been drawn excluding all those cases (in themselves singular enough) 
where the main phenomena observed consist of non-articulate sounds, 
— there remains a great mass of evidence to haunting, — that is, broadly 
speaking, to the fact that there are many houses in which more than one 
person has independently seen phantasmal figures, which usually, though 
not always, bear at least some resemblance to each other. 1 The facts 
thus baldly stated are beyond dispute. Their true interpretation is a 
very difficult matter. Mrs. Sidgwick gives four hypotheses, which I must 
quote at length as the first serious attempt ever made (so far as I know) 
to collect and face the difficulties of this problem, so often, but so loosely, 
discussed through all historical times. (From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. 
iii. pp. 146-8.) 

"I will, therefore, proceed briefly to state and discuss the only four 
theories that have occurred to me. 

"The two which I will take first in order assume that the apparitions 
are due to the agency or presence of the spirits of deceased men. 

"There is first the popular view, that the apparition is something 
belonging to the external world — that, like ordinary matter, it occupies 
and moves through space, and would be in the room whether the per- 
cipient were there to see it or not. This hypothesis involves us in many 
difficulties, of Which one serious one — that of accounting for the clothes 
of the ghost — has often been urged, and never, I think, satisfactorily 
answered. Nevertheless, I am bound to admit that there is some little 
evidence tending to suggest this theory. For instance, in the account, 2 
of which I have given an abstract, of the weeping lady who has appeared 
so frequently in a certain house, the following passage occurs: — 'They 
went after it (the figure) together into the drawing-room; it then came 
out, and went down the aforesaid passage (leading to the kitchen), but 
was the next minute seen by another Miss [M.] . . .come up the outside 
steps from the kitchen. On this particular day, Captain [M.'s] married 
daughter happened to be at an upstairs window . . . and independently 

1 Thus Mrs. Sidgwick, even as far back as 1885 {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 142), 
writes: "I can only say that having made every effort — as my paper will, I hope, 
have shown — to exercise a reasonable scepticism, I yet do not feel equal to the degree 
of unbelief in human testimony necessary to avoid accepting, at least provisionally, 
the conclusion that there are, in a certain sense, haunted houses, i.e., that there are 
houses in which similar quasi-human apparitions have occurred at different times 
to different inhabitants, under circumstances which exclude the hypothesis of sug- 
gestion or expectation." 

2 This case is given in Appendix VII. G. 


saw the figure continue her course across the lawn and into the orchard.' 
A considerable amount of clear evidence to the appearance of ghosts to 
independent observers in successive points in space would certainly afford 
a strong argument for their having a definite relation to space; but in 
estimating evidence of this kind it would be necessary to know how far 
the observer's attention had been drawn to the point in question. If 
it had been a real woman whom the Miss [M.'s] were observing, we should 
have inferred, with perfect certainty, from our knowledge that she could 
not be in two places at once, that she had been successively, in a certain 
order, in the places where she was seen by the three observers. If they 
had noted the moments at which they saw her, and comparing notes after- 
wards, found that according to these notes they had all seen her at the 
same time, or in some other order to that inferred, we should still feel 
absolute confidence in our inference, and should conclude that there must 
be something wrong about the watches or the notes. From association 
of ideas, it would be perfectly natural to make the same inference in the 
case of a ghost which looks exactly like a woman. But in the case of 
the ghost the inference would not be legitimate, because, unless the par- 
ticular theory of ghosts which we are discussing be true, there is no reason, 
so far as we know, why it should not appear in two or more places at once. 
Hence, in the case of the ghost, a well-founded assurance that the ap- 
pearances were successive would require a careful observation of the times, 
which, so far as I know, has never been made. On the whole, therefore, 
I must dismiss the popular theory as not having, in my opinion, even a 
primd facie ground for serious consideration. 

"The theory that I will next examine seems to me decidedly more 
plausible, from its analogy to the conclusion to which I am brought by 
the examination of the evidence for phantasms of the living. This theory 
is that the apparition has no real relation to the external world, but is a 
hallucination caused in some way by some communication, without the 
intervention of the senses, between the disembodied spirit and the per- 
cipient, its form depending on the mind either of the spirit or of the per- 
cipient, or of both. In the case of haunted houses, however, a difficulty 
meets us that we do not encounter, or at least rarely encounter, in applying 
a similar hypothesis to explain phantasms of the living, or phantasms 
of the dead other than fixed local ghosts. In these cases we have gen- 
erally to suppose a simple rapport between mind and mind, but in a haunted 
house we have a rapport complicated by its apparent dependence on locality. 
It seems necessary to make the improbable assumption, that the spirit 
is interested in an entirely special way in a particular house (though 


possibly this interest may be of a subconscious kind), and that his interest 
in it puts him into connection with another mind, occupied with it in the 
way that that of a living person actually there must consciously or uncon- 
sciously be, while he does not get into similar communication with the 
same, or with other persons elsewhere. 

"If, notwithstanding these difficulties, it be true that haunting is due 
in any way to the agency of deceased persons, and conveys a definite idea 
of them to the percipients through the resemblance to them of the appari- 
tion, then, by patiently continuing our investigations, we may expect, 
sooner or later, to obtain a sufficient amount of evidence to connect clearly 
the commencement of hauntings with the death of particular persons, 
and to establish clearly the likeness of the apparition to those persons. 
The fact that almost everybody is now photographed ought to be of 
material assistance in obtaining evidence of this latter kind. 

"My third theory dispenses with the agency of disembodied spirits, 
but involves us in other and perhaps equally great improbabilities. It is 
that the first appearance is a purely subjective hallucination, and that 
the subsequent similar appearances, both to the original percipient and 
to others, are the result of the first appearance; unconscious expectancy 
causing them in the case of the original percipient, and some sort of tele- 
pathic communication from the original percipient in the case of others. 
In fact, it assumes that a tendency to a particular hallucination is in a 
way infectious. If this theory be true, I should expect to find that the 
apparently independent appearances after the first depended on the per- 
cipient's having had some sort of intercourse with some one who had seen 
the ghost before, and that any decided discontinuity of occupancy would 
stop the haunting. I should also expect to find, as we do in one of the 
cases I have quoted, that sometimes the supposed ghost would follow 
the family from one abode to another, appearing to haunt them rather 
than any particular house. 

"The fourth theory that I shall mention is one which I can hardly 
expect to appear plausible, and which, therefore, I only introduce because 
I think that it corresponds best to a certain part of the evidence; — and, 
as I have already said, considering the altogether tentative way in which 
we are inevitably dealing with this obscure subject, it is as well to express 
definitely every hypothesis which an impartial consideration of the facts 
suggests. It is that there is something in the actual building itself — 
some subtle physical influence — which produces in the brain that effect 
which, in its turn, becomes the cause of a hallucination. It is certainly 
difficult on this hypothesis alone to suppose that the hallucinations of 


different people would be similar, but we might account for this by a com- 
bination of this hypothesis and the last. The idea is suggested by the 
case, of which I have given an abstract, where the haunting continued 
through more than one occupancy, but changed its character; and if there 
be any truth in the theory, I should expect in time to obtain a good deal 
more evidence of this kind, combined with evidence that the same persons 
do not as a rule encounter ghosts elsewhere. I should also expect evidence 
to be forthcoming supporting the popular idea that repairs and alterations 
of the building sometimes cause the haunting to cease." 1 

These hypotheses — none of which, as Mrs. Sidgwick expressly states 
{op. cit., p. 145), seemed to herself satisfactory — did nevertheless, I 
think, comprise all the deductions which could reasonably be made from 
the evidence as it at that time stood. A few modifications, which the 
experience of subsequent years has led me to introduce, can hardly be 
said to afford further explanation, although they state the difficulties in 
what now seems to me a more hopeful way. 

In the first place then — as already explained in Chapter VI. — I in 
some sense fuse into one Mrs. Sidgwick's two first hypotheses by my own 
hypothesis of actual presence, actual spatial changes induced in the mete- 
therial, but not in the material world. I hold that when the phantasm is 
discerned by more than one person at once (and on some other, but not 
all other occasions) it is actually effecting a change in that portion of space 
where it is perceived, although not, as a rule, in the matter which occupies 
that place. It is, therefore, not optically nor acoustically perceived; per- 
haps no rays of light are reflected nor waves of air set in motion; but 
an unknown form of supernormal perception, not necessarily acting through 
the sensory end-organs, comes into play. In the next place, I am inclined 
to lay stress on the parallel between these narratives of haunting and 
those phantasms of the living which I have already classed as psychorrhagic. 

1 In an earlier part of this paper, I mentioned cases of haunted houses where the 
apparitions are various, and might therefore all of them be merely subjective hallucina- 
tions, sometimes, perhaps, caused by expectancy. It is, of course, also possible to 
explain these cases by the hypothesis we are now discussing. Another class of cases 
is, perhaps, worth mentioning in this connection. We have in the collection two 
cases of what was believed by the narrators to be a quite peculiar feeling of discom- 
fort, in houses where concealed and long since decomposed bodies were subsequently 
found. Such feelings are seldom clearly defined enough to have much evidential 
value, for others, at any rate, than the percipient; even though mentioned beforehand, 
and definitely connected with the place where the skeleton was. But if there be really 
any connection between the skeleton and the feeling, it may possibly be a subtle 
physical influence such as I am suggesting. — E. M. S. 


In each case, as it seems to me, there is an involuntary detachment of 
some element of the spirit, probably with no knowledge thereof at the 
main centre of consciousness. Those "haunts by the living," as they may 
be called, where, for instance, a man is seen phantasmally standing before 
his own fireplace, seem to me to be repeated, perhaps more readily, 
after the spirit is freed from the flesh. 

Again, I think that the curious question as to the influence of certain 
houses in generating apparitions may be included under the broader head- 
ing of Retrocognition. That is to say, we are not here dealing with a 
special condition of certain houses, but with a branch of the wide problem 
as to the relation of supernormal phenomena to time. Manifestations 
which occur in haunted houses depend, let us say, on something which 
has taken place a long time ago. In what way do they depend on that 
past event ? Are they a sequel, or only a residue ? Is there fresh opera- 
tion going on, or only fresh perception of something already accomplished ? 
Or can we in such a case draw any real distinction between a continued 
action and a continued perception of a past action? The closest parallel, 
as it seems to me, although not at first sight an obvious one, lies between 
these phenomena of haunting, these persistent sights and sounds, and 
certain phenomena of crystal-vision and of automatic script, which also 
seem to depend somehow upon long-past events, — to be their sequel or 
their residue. One specimen case I give in Appendix (VII. G), where 
the connection of the haunting apparition with a certain person long de- 
ceased may be maintained with more than usual plausibility. From that 
level the traceable connections get weaker and weaker, until we come 
to phantasmal scenes where there is no longer any even apparent claim 
to the contemporary agency of human spirits. Such a vision, for instance, 
as that of a line of spectral deer crossing a ford, may indeed, if seen in 
the same place by several independent observers, be held to be something 
more than a mere subjective fancy; but what in reality such a picture 
signifies is a question which brings us at once to theories of the perma- 
nence or simultaneity of all phenomena in a timeless Universal Soul. 

Such conceptions, however difficult, are among the highest to which 
our mind can reach. Could we approach them more nearly, they might 
deeply influence our view, even of our own remote individual destiny. 
So, perhaps, shall it some day be; at present we may be well satisfied if 
we can push our knowledge of that destiny one step further than of old, 
even just behind that veil which has so long hung impenetrably before 
the eyes of men. 

Here, then, is a natural place of pause in our inquiry. 


The discussion of the ethical aspect of these questions I have post- 
poned to my concluding chapter. But one point already stands out 
from the evidence — at once so important and so manifest that it seems 
well to call attention to it at once — as a solvent more potent than 
any Lucretius could apply to human superstition and human fears. 

In this long string of narratives, complex and bizarre though their 
details may be, we yet observe that the character of the appearance varies 
in a definite manner with their distinctness and individuality. Haunting 
phantoms, incoherent and unintelligent, may seem restless and unhappy. 
But as they rise into definiteness, intelligence, individuality, the phantoms 
rise also into love and joy. I cannot recall one single case of a proved 
posthumous combination of intelligence with wickedness. Such evil as 
our evidence will show us — we have as yet hardly come across it in this 
book — is scarcely more than monkeyish mischief, childish folly. In 
dealing with automatic script, for instance, we shall have to wonder whence 
come the occasional vulgar jokes or silly mystifications. We shall discuss 
whether they are a kind of dream of the automatist's own, or whether they 
indicate the existence of unembodied intelligences on the level of the dog 
or the ape. But, on the other hand, all that world-old conception of Evil 
Spirits, of malevolent Powers, which has been the basis of so much of 
actual devil-worship and of so much more of vague supernatural fear; — 
all this insensibly melts from the mind as we study the evidence before us. 

Hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest 
Non radii solis, neque lucida tela diei 
Discutiant sed, naturae species ratioque. 

Here surely is a fact of no little meaning. Our narratives have been 
collected from men and women of many types, holding all varieties of 
ordinary opinion. Yet the upshot of all these narratives is to emphasise 
a point which profoundly differentiates the scientific from the supersti- 
tious view of spiritual phenomena. The terror which shaped primitive 
theologies still tinges for the populace every hint of intercourse with dis- 
embodied souls. The transmutation of savage fear into scientific curiosity 
is of the essence of civilisation. Towards that transmutation each separate 
fragment of our evidence, with undesigned concordance, indisputably 
tends. In that faintly opening world of spirit I can find nothing worse 
than living men; I seem to discern not an intensification but a disintegra- 
tion of selfishness, malevolence, pride. And is not this a natural result 
of any cosmic moral evolution ? If the selfish man (as Marcus Antoninus 
has it) "is a kind of boil or imposthume upon the universe," must not his 


egoistic impulses suffer in that wider world a sure, even if a painful, decay; 
finding no support or sustenance among those permanent forces which 
maintain the stream of things? 

I have thus indicated one point of primary importance on which the 
undesignedly coincident testimony of hundreds of first-hand narratives 
supports a conclusion, not yet popularly accepted, but in harmony with 
the evolutionary conceptions which rule our modern thought. Nor does 
this point stand alone. I can find, indeed, no guarantee of absolute and 
idle bliss; no triumph in any exclusive salvation. But the student of 
these narratives will, I think, discover throughout them uncontradicted 
indications of the persistence of Love, the growth of Joy, the willing sub- 
mission to Law. 

These indications, no doubt, may seem weak and scattered in com- 
parison with the wholesale, thorough-going assertions of philosophical 
or religious creeds. Their advantage is that they occur incidentally in 
the course of our independent and cumulative demonstration of the pro- 
foundest cosmical thesis which we can at present conceive as susceptible 
of any kind of scientific proof. Cosmical questions, indeed, there may 
be which are in themselves of deeper import than our own survival of 
bodily death. The nature of the First Cause; the blind or the providential 
ordering of the sum of things; — these are problems vaster than any which 
affect only the destinies of men. But to whatever moral certainty we 
may attain on those mightiest questions, we can devise no way whatever 
of bringing them to scientific test. They deal with infinity; and our 
modes of investigation have grasp only on finite things. 

But the question of man's survival of death stands in a position uniquely 
intermediate between matters capable and matters incapable of proof. 
It is in itself a definite problem, admitting of conceivable proof which, 
even if not technically rigorous, might amply satisfy the scientific mind. 
And at the same time the conception which it involves is in itself a kind 
of avenue and inlet into infinity. Could a proof of our survival be ob- 
tained, it would carry us deeper into the true nature of the universe than 
we should be carried by an even perfect knowledge of the material scheme 
of things. It would carry us deeper both by achievement and by promise. 
The discovery that there was a life in man independent of blood and brain 
would be a cardinal, a dominating fact in all science and in all philosophy. 
And the prospect thus opened to human knowledge, in this or in other 
worlds, would be limitless indeed. 


MijK^rt fi6vov (rv/xirveiv t# Trepiix 0VTl &fyi, d\V ijdr) /cat ffv/n^poveiv 
r<fi irepi^xovrt ir&PTCL voep$. 

— Marcus Aurelius. 

At this point, one may broadly say, we reach the end of the phenomena 
whose existence is vaguely familiar to popular talk. And here, too, I 
might fairly claim, the evidence for my primary thesis, — namely, that 
the analysis of man's personality reveals him as a spirit, surviving death, 
— has attained an amplitude which would justify the reader in accepting 
that view as the provisional hypothesis which comes nearest to a compre- 
hensive co-ordination of the actual facts. What we have already recounted 
seems, indeed, impossible to explain except by supposing that our inner 
vision has widened or deepened its purview so far as to attain some 
glimpses of a spiritual world in which the individualities of our 
departed friends still actually subsist. 

The reader, however, who has followed me thus far must be well aware 
that a large class of phenomena, of high importance, is still awaiting dis- 
cussion. Motor automatisms, — though less familiar to the general public 
than the phantasms which I have classed as sensory automatisms, — are 
in fact even commoner, and even more significant. 

Motor automatisms, as I define them, are phenomena of very wide 
range. We have encountered them already many times in this book. We 
met them in the first place in a highly developed form in connection with 
multiplex personality in Chapter II. Numerous instances were there 
given of motor effects, initiated by secondary selves without the knowledge 
of the primary selves, or sometimes in spite of their actual resistance. All 
motor action of a secondary self is an automatism in this sense, in relation 
to the primary self. And of course we might by analogy extend the use 
of the word still further, and might call not only post-epileptic acts, but 
also maniacal acts, automatic; since they are performed without the ini- 
tiation of the presumedly sane primary personality. Those degenerative 



phenomena, indeed, are not to be discussed in this chapter. Yet it will 
be well to pause here long enough to make it clear to the reader just what 
motor automatisms I am about to discuss as evolutive phenomena, and 
as therefore falling within the scope of this treatise; — and what kind 
of relation they bear to the dissolutive motor phenomena which occupy 
so much larger a place in popular knowledge. 

In order to meet this last question, I must here give more distinct 
formulation to a thesis which has already suggested itself more than 
once in dealing with special groups of our phenomena, 

// may be expected that supernormal vital phenomena will manifest 
themselves as jar as possible through the same channels as abnormal or 
morbid vital phenomena, when the same centres or the same synergies are 

To illustrate the meaning of this theorem, I may refer to a remark 
long ago made by Edmund Gurney and myself in dealing with "Phan- 
tasms of the Living," or veridical hallucinations, generated (as we main- 
tained), not by a morbid state of the percipient's brain, but by a telepathic 
impact from an agent at a distance. We observed that if a hallucination 
— a subjective image — is to be excited by this distant energy, it will 
probably be most readily excited in somewhat the same manner as the 
morbid hallucination which follows on a cerebral injury. We urged that 
this is likely to be the case — we showed ground for supposing that it is 
the case — both as regards the mode of evolution of the phantasm in the 
percipient's brain, and the mode in which it seems to present itself to 
his senses. 

And here I should wish to give a much wider generality to this prin- 
ciple, and to argue that if there be within us a secondary self aiming at 
manifestation by physiological means, it seems probable that its readiest 
path of extemalisation — its readiest outlet of visible action — may often 
lie along some track which has already been shown to be a line of low 
resistance by the disintegrating processes of disease. Or, varying the 
metaphor, we may anticipate that the partition of the primary and the 
secondary self will lie along some plane of cleavage which the morbid dis- 
sociations of our psychical synergies have already shown themselves dis- 
posed to follow. If epilepsy, madness, etc., tend to split up our faculties 
in certain ways, automatism is likely to split them up in ways somewhat 
resembling these. 

But in what way then, it will be asked, do you distinguish the super- 
normal from the merely abnormal? Why assume that in these aberrant 
states there is anything besides hysteria, besides epilepsy, besides insanity ? 


The answer to this question has virtually been given in previous chap- 
ters of this book. The reader is already accustomed to the point of view 
which regards all psychical as well as all physiological activities as neces- 
sarily either developmental or degenerative, tending to evolution or to 
dissolution. And now, whilst altogether waiving any teleological specu- 
lation, I will ask him hypothetically to suppose that an evolutionary nisus, 
something which we may represent as an effort towards self-development, 
self-adaptation, self-renewal, is discernible especially on the psychical 
side of at any rate the higher forms of life. Our question, Supernormal 
or abnormal ? — may then be phrased, Evolutive or dissolutive ? And 
in studying each psychical phenomenon in turn we shall have to inquire 
whether it indicates a mere degeneration of powers already acquired, or, 
on the other hand, the " promise and potency," if not the actual possession, 
of powers as yet unrecognised or unknown. 

Thus, for instance, Telepathy is surely a step in evolution. 1 To learn 
the thoughts of other minds without the mediation of the special senses, 
manifestly indicates the possibility of a vast extension of psychical powers. 
And any knowledge which we can amass as to the conditions under which 
telepathic action takes place will form a valuable starting-point for an 
inquiry as to the evolutive or dissolutive character of unfamiliar psychical 
states. 2 

For example, we may learn from our knowledge of telepathy that the 
superficial aspect of certain stages of psychical evolution, like the super- 
ficial aspect of certain stages of physiological evolution, may resemble mere 

1 To avoid misconception, I may point out that this view in no way negatives 
the possibility that telepathy (or its correlative telergy) may be in some of its aspects 
commoner, or more powerful, among savages than among ourselves. Evolutionary 
processes are not necessarily continuous. The acquirement by our lowly-organised 
ancestors of the sense of smell (for instance) was a step in evolution. But the sense 
of smell probably reached its highest energy in races earlier than man; and it has per- 
ceptibly declined even in the short space which separates civilised man from existing 
savages. Yet if, with some change in our environment, the sense of smell again 
became useful, and we reacquired it, this would be none the less an evolutionary 
process because the evolution had been interrupted. 

2 1 do not wish to assert that all unfamiliar psychical states are necessarily evo- 
lutive or dissolutive in any assignable manner. I should prefer to suppose that there 
are states which may better be styled allotropic; — modifications of the arrangements 
of nervous elements on which our conscious identity depends, but with no more con- 
spicuous superiority of the one state over the other than (for instance) charcoal pos- 
sesses over graphite or graphite over charcoal. But there may also be states in which 
the (metaphorical) carbon becomes diamond; — with so much at least of advance 
on previous states as is involved in the substitution of the crystalline for the amorphous 


inhibition, or mere perturbation. But the inhibition may involve latent 
dynamogeny, and the perturbation may mask evolution. The hypnotised 
subject may pass through a lethargic stage before he wakes into a state in 
which he has gained community 0} sensation with the operator; somewhat 
as the silkworm (to use the oldest and the most suggestive of all illustra- 
tions) passes through the apparent torpor of the cocoon-stage before evolv- 
ing into the moth. Again, the automatist's hand (as we shall presently 
see) is apt to pass through a stage of inco-ordinated movements, which 
might almost be taken for choreic, before it acquires the power of ready 
and intelligent writing. Similarly the development, for instance, of a tooth 
may be preceded by a stage of indefinite aching, which might be ascribed to 
the formation of an abscess, did not the new tooth ultimately show itself. 
And still more striking cases of a perturbation which masks evolution might 
be drawn from the history of the human organism as it develops into its 
own maturity, or prepares for the appearance of the fresh human organism 
which is to succeed it. 

Analogy, therefore, both physiological and psychical, warns us not to 
conclude that any given psychosis is merely degenerative until we have 
examined its results closely enough to satisfy ourselves whether they tend 
to bring about any enlargement of human powers, to open any new inlet 
to the reception of objective truth. If such there prove to be, then, with 
whatever morbid activities the psychosis may have been intertwined, it 
contains indications of an evolutionary nisus as well. 

These remarks, I hope, may have sufficiently cleared the ground to 
admit of our starting afresh on the consideration of such motor automa- 
tisms as are at any rate not morbid in their effect on the organism, and 
which I now have to show to be evolutive in character. I maintain that 
we have no valid ground for assuming that the movements which are not 
due to our conscious will must be less important, and less significant, 
than those that are. We observe, of course, that in the organic region 
the movements which are not due to conscious will are really the most 
important of all, though the voluntary movements by which a man seeks 
food and protects himself against enemies are also of great practical 
importance — he must first live and multiply if he is to learn and know. 
But we must guard against confusing importance for immediate practical 
life with importance for science — on which even practical life ultimately 
depends. As soon as the task of living and multiplying is no longer all- 
engrossing, we begin to change our relative estimate of values, and to find 
that it is not the broad and obvious phenomena, but the residual and 
elusive phenomena, which are oftenest likely to introduce us to new 


avenues of knowledge. I wish to persuade my readers that this is quite 
as truly the case in psychology as in physics. 

As a first step in our analysis, we may point out certain main charac- 
ters which unite in a true class all the automatisms which we are here 
considering — greatly though these may differ among themselves in 
external form. 

In the first place, then, our automatisms are independent phenomena; 
they are what the physician calls idiognomonic. That is to say, they are 
not merely symptomatic of some other affection, or incidental to some pro- 
founder change. The mere fact, for instance, that a man writes messages 
which he does not consciously originate will not, when taken alone, prove 
anything beyond this fact itself as to the writer's condition. He may be 
perfectly sane, in normal health, and with nothing unusual observable 
about him. This characteristic — provable by actual observation and 
experiment — distinguishes our automatisms from various seemingly 
kindred phenomena. Thus we may have to include in our class the occa- 
sional automatic utterance of words or sentences. But the continuous 
exhausting vociferation of acute mania does not fall within our province; 
for those shouts are merely symptomatic; nor, again, does the cri hydro- 
cephalique (or spontaneous meaningless noise which sometimes accom- 
panies water on the brain); for that, too, is no independent phenomenon, 
but the direct consequence of a definite lesion. Furthermore, we shall 
have to include in our class certain simple movements of the hands, co- 
ordinated into the act of writing. But here, also, our definition will lead 
us to exclude choreic movements, which are merely symptomatic of ner- 
vous malnutrition; or which we may, if we choose, call idiopathic, as 
constituting an independent malady. But our automatisms are not 
idiopathic but idiognomonic; they may indeed be associated with or 
facilitated by certain states of the organism, but they are neither a 
symptom of any other malady, nor are they a malady in themselves. 

Agreeing, then, that our peculiar class consists of automatisms which 
are idiognomonic, — whose existence does not necessarily imply the exist- 
ence of some profounder affection already known as producing them, — 
we have still to look for some more positive bond of connection between 
them, some quality common to all of them, and which makes them worth 
our prolonged investigation. 

This we shall find in the fact that they are all of them message-bearing 
or nunciative automatisms. I do not, of course, mean that they all of 
them bring messages from sources external to the automatist's own mind. 
In some cases they probably do this; but as a rule the so-called messages 


seem more probably to originate within the automatist's own personality. 
Why, then, it may be asked, do I call them messages ? We do not usually 
speak of a man as sending a message to himself. The answer to this ques- 
tion involves, as we shall presently see, the profoundest conception of 
these automatisms to which we can as yet attain. They present them- 
selves to us as messages communicated from one stratum to another stratum 
of the same personality. Originating in some deeper zone of a man's 
being, they float up into superficial consciousness, as deeds, visions, words, 
ready-made and full-blown, without any accompanying perception of the 
elaborative process which has made them what they are. 

Can we then (we may next ask) in any way predict the possible range 
of these motor automatisms? Have we any limit assignable a priori, 
outside which it would be useless to look for any externalisation of an 
impulse emanating from sub-conscious strata of our being? 

The answer to this must be that no such limit can be with any con- 
fidence suggested. We have not yet learnt with any distinctness even 
how far the wave from a consciously-perceived stimulus will spread, or 
what changes its motion will assume. Still less can we predict the limita- 
tions which the resistance of the organism will impose on the radiation of a 
stimulus originated within itself. We are learning to consider the human 
organism as a practically infinite complex of interacting vibrations; and 
each year adds many new facts to our knowledge of the various trans- 
formations which these vibrations may undergo, and of the unexpected 
artifices by which we may learn to cognise some stimulus which is not 
directly felt. 

A few concrete instances will make my meaning plainer. And my 
first example shall be taken from those experiments in muscle-reading — 
less correctly termed mind-reading — with which the readers of the Pro- 
ceedings of the S.P.R. are already familiar. Let us suppose that I am to 
hide a pin, and that some accomplished muscle-reader is to take my hand 
and find the pin by noting my muscular indications. 1 I first hide the pin 
in the hearth-rug; then I change my mind and hide it in the bookshelf. 
I fix my mind on the bookshelf, but resolve to make no guiding move- 
ment. The muscle-reader takes my hand, leads me first to the rug, then 
to the bookshelf, and finds the pin. Now, what has happened in this 
case? What movements have I made? 

Firstly, I have made no voluntary movement; and secondly, I have 
made no conscious involuntary movement. But, thirdly, I have made an 
unconscious involuntary movement which directly depended on conscious 
1 See, for instance. Proceedings S.P.R., vol. i. p. 291. 


ideation. I strongly thought of the bookshelf, and when the bookshelf 
was reached in our vague career about the room I made a movement — 
say rather a tremor occurred — in my hand, which, although beyond both 
my knowledge and my control, was enough to supply to the muscle-reader's 
delicate sensibility all the indication required. All this is now admitted, 
and, in a sense, understood; we formulate it by saying that my conscious 
ideation contained a motor element; and that this motor element, though 
inhibited from any conscious manifestation, did yet inevitably externalise 
itself in a peripheral tremor. 

But, fourthly, something more than this has clearly taken place. Be- 
fore the muscle-reader stopped at the bookshelf he stopped at the rug. I 
was no longer consciously thinking of the rug; but the idea of the pin in 
the rug must still have been reverberating, so to say, in my sub-conscious 
region; and this unconscious memory, this unnoted reverberation, revealed 
itself in a peripheral tremor nearly as distinct as that which (when the 
bookshelf was reached) corresponded to the strain of conscious thought. 

This tremor, then, was in a certain sense a message-bearing automa- 
tism. It was the externalisation of an idea which, once conscious, had 
become unconscious, though in the slightest conceivable degree — namely, 
by a mere slight escape from the field of direct attention. 

Having, then, considered an instance where the automatic message 
passes only between two closely-adjacent strata of consciousness, external- 
ising an impulse derived from an idea which has only recently sunk out 
of consciousness and which could easily be summoned back again; — let 
us find our next illustration in a case where the line of demarcation between 
the strata of consciousness through which the automatic message pierces 
is distinct and impassable by any effort of will. 

Let us take a case of post-hypnotic suggestion; — say, for instance, an 
experiment of Edmund Gurney's (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 319). 
The subject had been trained to write with planchette, after he had been 
awakened, the statements which had been made to him when in the hyp- 
notic trance. He wrote the desired words, or something like them, but 
while he wrote them his waking self was entirely unaware of what his 
hand was writing. Thus, having been told in the trance, "It has begun 
snowing again," he wrote, after waking, "It begun snowing," while he 
read aloud, with waking intelligence, from a book of stories, and was quite 
unconscious of what his hand (placed on a planchette behind a screen) 
was at the same time writing. 

Here we have an automatic message of traceable origin; a message 
implanted in the hypnotic stratum of the subject's self, and cropping up 


— like a fault — in the waking stratum, — externalised in automatic 
movements which the waking self could neither predict nor guide. 

Yet once more. In the discussion which will follow we shall have 
various instances of the transformation (as I shall regard it) of psychical 
shock into definite muscular energy of apparently a quite alien kind. Such 
transformations of so-called psychical into physical force — of will into 
motion — do of course perpetually occur within us. 

For example, I take a child to a circus; he sits by me holding my 
hand; there is a discharge of musketry and his grip tightens. Now in 
this case we should call the child's tightened grip automatic. But 
suppose that, instead of merely holding my hand, he is trying with all 
his might to squeeze the dynamometer, and that the sudden excitation 
enables him to squeeze it harder — are we then to describe that extra 
squeeze as automatic? or as voluntary? 

However phrased, it is the fact (as amply established by M. Fere and 
others *) that excitations of almost any kind — whether sudden and start- 
ling or agreeable and prolonged — do tend to increase the subject's dyna- 
mometrical power. In the first place, and this is in itself an important 
fact, the average of squeezing-power is found to be greater among educated 
students than among robust labouring men, thus showing that it is not so 
much developed muscle as active brain which renders possible a sudden 
concentration of muscular force. But more than this; M. Fere finds that 
with himself and his friends the mere listening to an interesting lecture, 
or the mere stress of thought in solitude, or still more the act of writing or 
of speech, produces a decided increase of strength in the grip, especially 
of the right hand. The same effect of dynamogeny is produced with hyp- 
notic subjects, by musical sounds, by coloured light, especially red light, 
and even by a hallucinatory suggestion of red light. "All our sensations," 
says M. Fere in conclusion, "are accompanied by a development of 
potential energy, which passes into a kinetic state, and externalises itself 
in motor manifestations which even so rough a method as dynamometry 
is able to observe and record." 

I would beg the reader to keep these words in mind. We shall presently 
find that a method apparently even rougher than dynamographic tracings 
may be able to interpret, with far greater delicacy, the automatic tremors 
which are coursing to and fro within us. If once we can get a spy into 
the citadel of our own being, his rudest signalling will tell us more than 
our subtlest inferences from outside of what is being planned and done 

1 Sensation et Mouvement, par Ch. Fere, Paris: Alcan, 1887. 


And now having to deal with what I define as messages conveyed by 
one stratum in man to another stratum, I must first consider in what 
general ways human messages can be conveyed. Writing and speech 
have become predominant in the intercourse of civilised men, and it is 
to writing and speech that we look with most interest among the com- 
munications of the subliminal self. But it does not follow that the sub- 
liminal self will always have such complex methods at its command. We 
have seen already that it often finds it hard to manage the delicate co- 
ordinations of muscular movement required for writing, — that the 
attempt at automatic script ends in a thump and a scrawl. 

The subliminal self like the telegraphist begins its effort with full 
knowledge, indeed, of the alphabet, but with only weak and rude com- 
mand over our muscular adjustments. It is therefore a priori likely 
that its easiest mode of communication will be through a repetition of 
simple movements, so arranged as to correspond to letters of the alphabet. 

And here, I think, we have attained to a conception of the mysterious 
and much-derided phenomenon of "table- tilting" which enables us to 
correlate it with known phenomena, and to start at least from an 
intelligible basis, and on a definite line of inquiry. 

A few words are needed to explain what are the verifiable phenomena, 
and the less verifiable hypotheses, connoted by such words as "table- 
turning," "spirit-rapping," and the like. 

If one or more persons of a special type — at present definable only 
by the question-begging and barbarous term " mediumistic " — remain 
quietly for some time with hands in contact with some easily movable 
object, and desiring its movement, that object will sometimes begin to 
move. If, further, they desire it to indicate letters of the alphabet by its 
movements, — as by tilting once for a, twice for b, etc., it will often do so, 
and answers unexpected by any one present will be obtained. 

Thus" far, whatever our interpretation, we are in the region of easily 
reproducible facts, which many of my readers may confirm for themselves 
if they please. 

But beyond the simple movements — or table-turning — and the 
intelligible responses — or table-tilting — both of which are at least primd 
facie physically explicable by the sitters' unconscious pressure, without 
postulating any unknown physical force at all, — it is alleged by many 
persons that further physical phenomena occur; namely, that the table 
moves in a direction, or with a violence, which no unconscious pressure 
can explain; and also that percussive sounds or "raps" occur, which no 
unconscious action, or indeed no agency known to us, could produce. 


These raps communicate messages like the tilts, and it is to them that the 
name of "spirit-rapping" is properly given. But spiritualists generally 
draw little distinction between these four phenomena — mere table- 
turning, responsive table-tilting, movements of inexplicable vehemence, 
and responsive raps — attributing all alike to the agency of departed 
spirits of men and women, or at any rate to disembodied intelligences 
of some kind or other. 

I am not at present discussing the physical phenomena of Spiritualism, 
and I shall therefore leave on one side all the alleged movements and 
noises of this kind for which unconscious pressure will not account. 
I do not prejudge the question as to their real occurrence; but assum- 
ing that such disturbances of the physical order do occur, there is at 
least no primd facie need to refer them to disembodied spirits. If a 
table moves when no one is touching it, this is not obviously more 
likely to have been effected by my deceased grandfather than by 
myself. We cannot tell how i" could move it; but then we cannot 
tell how he could move it either. The question must be argued on its 
merits in each case; and our present argument is not therefore vitiated 
by our postponement of this further problem. 

M. Richet 1 was, I believe, the first writer, outside the Spiritualistic 
group, who so much as showed any practical knowledge of this phenomenon, 
still less endeavoured to explain it. Faraday's well-known explanation of 
table-turning as the result of the summation of many unconscious move- 
ments — obviously true as it is for some of the simplest cases of table- 
movement — does not touch this far more difficult question of the origina- 
tion of these intelligent messages, conveyed by distinct and repeated move- 
ments of some object admitting of ready displacement. The ordinary 
explanation — I am speaking, of course, of cases where fraud is not in 
question — is that the sitter unconsciously sets going and stops the move- 
ments so as to shape the word in accordance with his expectation. Now 
that he unconsciously sets going and stops the movements is part of my 
own present contention, but that the word is thereby shaped in accordance 
with his expectation is often far indeed from being the case. To those 
indeed who are familiar with automatic written messages, this question as 
to the unexpectedness of the tilted messages will present itself in a new 
light. If the written messages originate in a source beyond the automa- 
tist's supraliminal self, so too may the tilted messages; — even though 
we admit that the tilts are caused by his hand's pressure of the table just 
as directly as the script by his hand's manipulation of the pen. 

1 La Suggestion Mentale (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ii. pp. 239 sqq.). 


One piece of evidence showing that written messages are not always 
the mere echo of expectation is a case * where anagrams were automatically 
written, which their writer was not at once able to decipher. Following 
this hint, I have occasionally succeeded in getting anagrams tilted out for 
myself by movements of a small table which I alone touched. 

This is a kind of experiment which might with advantage be oftener 
repeated; for the extreme incoherence and silliness of the responses thus 
obtained does not prevent the process itself from being in a high degree 
instructive. Here, again (as in automatic writing), a man may hold col- 
loquy with his own dream — may note in actual juxtaposition two separate 
strata of his own intelligence. 

I shall not at present pursue the discussion of these tilted responses 
beyond this their very lowest and most rudimentary stage. They 
almost immediately suggest another problem, for which our discussion 
is hardly ripe, the participation, namely, of several minds in the produc- 
tion of the same automatic message. There is something of this diffi- 
culty even in the explanation of messages given when the hands of two 
persons are touching a planchette; but when the instrument of response 
is large, and the method of response simple, as with table-tilting, we find 
this question of the influence of more minds than one imperatively 

Our immediate object, however, is rather to correlate the different 
attainable modes of automatic response in some intelligible scheme than 
to pursue any one of them through all its phases. We regarded the table- 
tilting process as in one sense the simplest, the least differentiated form 
of motor response. It is a kind of gesture merely, though a gesture imply- 
ing knowledge of the alphabet. Let us see in what directions the move- 
ment of response becomes more specialised, — as gesture parts into pictorial 
art and articulate speech. We find, in fact, that a just similar divergence 
of impulses takes place in automatic response. On the one hand the 
motor impulse specialises itself into drawing; on the other hand it specialises 
itself into speech. Of automatic drawing I have already said something 
(Chapter III.). Automatic speech will receive detailed treatment in 
Chapter IX. At present I shall only briefly indicate the position of each 
form of movement among cognate automatisms. 

Some of my readers may have seen these so-called " spirit-drawings," 

— designs, sometimes in colour, whose author asserts that he drew them 

without any plan, or even knowledge of what his hand was going to do. 

This assertion may be quite true, and the person making it may be 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ii. pp. 226-31 [830 A]. 


perfectly sane. 1 The drawings so made will be found curiously accordant 
with what the view which I am explaining would lead us to expect. For 
they exhibit a fusion of arabesque with ideography; that is to say, they 
partly resemble the forms of ornamentation into which the artistic hand 
strays when, as it were, dreaming on the paper without definite plan; and 
partly they afford a parallel to the early attempts at symbolic self-expres- 
sion of savages who have not yet learnt an alphabet. Like savage writing, 
they pass by insensible transitions from direct pictorial symbolism to an 
abbreviated ideography, mingled in its turn with writing of a fantastic or 
of an ordinary kind. 

And here, before we enter on the study of automatic writing, I must 
refer to two great historic cases of automatism, which may serve as a kind 
of prologue to what is to follow. One case, that of Socrates, is a case of 
monitory inhibition; the other, that of Jeanne d'Arc, of monitory impulse. 

The Founder of Science himself — the permanent type of sanity, 
shrewdness, physical robustness, and moral balance — was guided in all 
the affairs of life by a monitory Voice, — by " the Daemon of Socrates." 
This is a case which can never lose its interest, a case which has been 
vouched for by the most practical, and discussed by the loftiest intellect 
of Greece, — both of them intimate friends of the illustrious subject; — 
a case, therefore, which one who endeavours to throw new light on hal- 
lucination and automatism is bound, even at this distance of time, to 
endeavour to explain. 2 And this is the more needful, since a treatise 
was actually written, a generation ago, as "a specimen of the application 
of the science of psychology to the science of history," arguing from the 
records of the Baifioviov in Xenophon and Plato that Socrates was in 
fact insane. 3 

I believe that it is now possible to give a truer explanation; to place 
these old records in juxtaposition with more instructive parallels; and to 
show that the messages which Socrates received were only advanced 

1 See Mr. Wilkinson's book Spirit Drawings: a Personal Narrative. But, of course, 
like other automatic impulses, this impulse to decorative or symbolical drawing is 
sometimes seen at its maximum in insane patients. Some drawings of an insane pa- 
tient, reproduced in the American Journal of Psychology, June 1888, show a noticeable 
analogy (in my view a predictable analogy) with some of the "spirit-drawings" above 
discussed. See also the Martian landscapes of Helene Smith, in Professor Flournoy's 
Des Indes a la planete Mars. 

2 An account of recorded instances of Socratic monitions and some discussion 
of them is given in the original edition [§ 813, 814]. 

3 Du Demon de Socrate, etc., by L. F. Lelut, Membre de l'Institut, Nouvelle 
edition, 1856. 


examples of a process which, if supernormal, is not abnormal, and 
which characterises that form of intelligence which we describe as 

The story of Socrates I take as a signal example of wise automatism; 
of the possibility that the messages which are conveyed to the supraliminal 
mind from subliminal strata of the personality, — whether as sounds, as 
sights, or as movements, — may sometimes come from far beneath the 
realm of dream and confusion, — from some self whose monitions convey 
to us a wisdom profounder than we know. 

Similarly in the case of Joan of Arc, I believe that only now, with the 
comprehension which we are gradually gaining of the possibility of an 
impulse from the mind's deeper strata which is so far from madness that 
it is wiser than our sanity itself, — only now, I repeat, can we understand 
aright that familiar story. 

Joan's condemnation was based on her own admissions; and the 
Latin proces-verbal still exists, and was published from the MS. by M. 
Quicherat, 1 841-9, for the French Historical Society. 1 Joan, like Soc- 
rates, was condemned mainly on the ground, or at least on the pretext 
of her monitory voices: and her Apology remarkably resembles his, in 
its resolute insistence on the truth of the very phenomena which were 
being used to destroy her. Her answers are clear and self-consistent, 
and seem to have been little, if at all, distorted by the recorder. Few 
pieces of history so remote as this can be so accurately known. 

Fortunately for our purpose, her inquisitors asked her many questions 
as to her voices and visions; and her answers enable us to give a pretty 
full analysis of the phenomena which concern us. 

I. The voices do not begin with the summons to fight for France. 
Joan heard them first at thirteen years of age, — as with Socrates also the 
voice began in childhood. The first command consisted of nothing more 
surprising than that "she was to be a good girl, and go often to church." 
After this the voice — as in the case of Socrates — intervened frequently, 
and on trivial occasions. 

II. The voice was accompanied at first by a light, and sometimes after- 
wards by figures of saints, who appeared to speak, and whom Joan appears 
to have both seen and felt as clearly as though they had been living persons. 
But here there is some obscurity; and Michelet thinks that on one occasion 
the Maid was tricked by the courtiers for political ends. For she asserted 
(apparently without contradiction) that several persons, including the 

1 For other authorities see Mr. Andrew Lang's paper in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. 
pp. 198-212, 


Archbishop of Rheims, as well as herself, had seen an angel bringing to 
the King a material crown. 1 

III. The voices came mainly when she was awake, but also sometimes 
roused her from sleep; a phenomenon often observed in our cases of 
"veridical hallucination." "Ipsa dormiebat, et vox excitabat earn." 
(Quicherat, i., p. 62.) 

IV. The voice was not always fully intelligible (especially if she was 
half awake) ; — in this respect again resembling some of our recorded 
cases, both visual and auditory, where, on the view taken in Phantasms 
0} the Living, the externalisation has been incomplete. "Vox dixit aliqua, 
sed non omnia intellexit." (Quicherat, i M p. 62.) 

V. The predictions of the voice, so far as stated, were mainly fulfilled; 
viz., that the siege of Orleans would be raised; that Charles VII. would 
be crowned at Rheims; that she herself would be wounded; but the pre- 
diction that there would be a great victory over the English within seven 
years was not fulfilled in any exact way, although the English continued to 
lose ground. In short, about so much was fulfilled as an ardent self- 
devoted mind might have anticipated; much indeed that might have seemed 
irrational to ordinary observers, but nothing which actually needed a 
definite prophetic power. Here, again, we are reminded of the general 
character of the monitions of Socrates. And yet in Joan's case, more 
probably than in the case of Socrates, there may have been one singular 
exception to this general rule. She knew by monition that there was a 
sword "retro altare" — somewhere behind the altar — in the Church of 
St. Catherine of Fierbois. "Scivit ipsum ibi esse per voces": — she sent 
for it, nothing doubting, and it was found and given to her. This was 
a unique incident in her career. Her judges asked whether she had not 
once found a cup, and a missing priest, by help of similar monitions, but 
this she denied; and it is remarkable that no serious attempt was made 
either to show that she had claimed this clairvoyant power habitually, or, 
on the other hand, to invalidate the one instance of it which she did in 
effect claim. It would be absurd to cite the alleged discovery of the 
sword as in itself affording a proof of clairvoyance, any more than 
Socrates' alleged intimation of the approaching herd of swine. 2 But 
when we are considering monitions given in more recent times it will be 
well to remember that it is in this direction that some supernormal 
extension of knowledge seems possibly traceable. 

The cases of Socrates and of Joan of Arc, on which I have just dwelt, 

1 On this point, see Mr. Lang's paper referred to above. 

2 See Plutarch's De genio Socratis, 


might with almost equal fitness have been introduced at certain other points 
of my discussion. At first sight, at any rate, they appear rather like sen- 
sory than like motor automatisms, — like hallucinations of hearing rather 
than like the motor impulses which we are now about to study. Each 
case, however, approaches motor automatism in a special way. 

In the case of Socrates the "sign" seems to have been not so much a 
definite voice as a sense of inhibition. In the case of Joan of Arc the voices 
were definite enough, but they were accompanied — as such voices some- 
times are, but sometimes are not — with an overmastering impulse to act 
in obedience to them. These are, I may say, palmary cases of inhibition 
and of impulse: and inhibition and impulse are at the very root of motor 

They show moreover the furthest extent of the claim that can be 
made for the agency of the subliminal self, apart from any external 
influence, — apart from telepathy from the living, or possession by the 
departed. Each of those other hypotheses will claim its own group of 
cases; but we must not invoke them until the resources of subliminal 
wisdom are manifestly overtaxed. 

These two famous cases, then, have launched us on our subject in the 
stress of a twofold difficulty in logical arrangement. We cannot always 
answer these primary questions, Is the subliminal impulse sensory or 
motor? is it originated in the automatist's own mind, or in some mind 
external to him? 

In the first place, we must reflect that, if the subliminal self really pos- 
sesses that profound power over the organism with which I have credited 
it, we may expect that its "messages" will sometimes express themseves 
in the form of deep organic modifications — of changes in the vaso-motor, 
the circulatory, the respiratory systems. Such phenomena are likely to be 
less noted or remembered as coincidental, from their very indefiniteness, 
as compared, for instance, with a phantasmal appearance; but we have, 
nevertheless, records of various telepathic cases of deep ccenesthetic dis- 
turbance, of a profound malaise which must, one would think, have 
involved some unusual condition of the viscera. 1 

In cases, too, where the telepathic impression has ultimately assumed 
a definite sensory form, some organic or emotional phenomena have been 
noted, being perhaps the first effects of the telepathic impact, whether from 
the living or from the dead. 2 

1 See Phantasms of the Living, vol. i., Chapter VII, passim. 
3 See Proceedings of the American S.P.R., vol. i. p. 397; Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. ix. pp. 33 and 35 [817 A, B, and C]. 


And here I may mention an experience of Lady de Vesci's, who de- 
scribed to me in conversation a feeling of malaise, defining itself into the 
urgent need of definite action — namely, the despatch of a telegram to a 
friend who was in fact then dying at the other side of the world. 1 Such 
an impulse had one only parallel in her experience, which also was 
telepathic in a similar way. 

Similar sensory disturbances are sometimes reported in connection 
with an important form of motor automatism, — that of " dowsing" or 
discovering water by means of the movement of a rod held in the hands 
of the automatist, — already treated of in Appendix V. A. 

A small group of cases may naturally be mentioned here. From two 
different points of view they stand for the most part at the entrance of our 
subject. I speak of motor inhibitions, prompted at first by subliminal 
memory, or by subliminal hyperesthesia, but merging into telsesthesia or 
telepathy. Inhibitions — sudden arrests or incapacities of action — 
(more or less of the Socratic type) — form a simple, almost rudimentary, 
type of motor automatisms. And an inhibition — a sudden check on 
action of this kind — will be a natural way in which a strong but obscure 
impression will work itself out. Such an impression, for instance, is that 
of alarm, suggested by some vague sound or odour which is only sublim- 
inally perceived. And thus in this series of motor automatisms, just as 
in our series of dreams, or in our series of sensory automatisms, we find 
ourselves beginning with cases where the subliminal self merely shows 
some slight extension of memory or of sensory perception, — and thence 
pass insensibly to cases where no " cryptomnesia " will explain the facts 
known in the past, and no hyperesthesia will explain the facts discerned 
in the present. 

We may most of us have observed that if we perform any small 
action to which there are objections, which we have once known but 
which have altogether passed from our minds, we are apt to perform it 
in a hesitating, inefficient way. 

Similarly there are cases where some sudden muscular impulse or in- 
hibition has probably depended on a subliminal perception or interpreta- 
tion of a sound which had not reached the supraliminal attention. For 
instance, two friends walking together along a street in a storm just evade 
by sudden movements a falling mass of masonry. Each thinks that he 
has received some monition of the fall; each asserting that he heard 
no noise whatever to warn him. Here is an instance where subliminal 

1 The case is recorded in Journal S.P.R., vol. v. p. 136 [817 D]. 


perception may have been slightly quicker and more delicate than 
supraliminal, and may have warned them just in time. 

In the case which I now quote (from Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. 
p. 416) there may have been some subliminal hyperesthesia of hearing 
which dimly warned Mr. Wyman of the approach of the extra train. 1 

Mr. Wm. H. Wyman writes to the Editor of the Arena as follows: — 

Dunkirk, N. Y., June 26th, 1891. 

Some years ago my brother was employed and had charge as conduc- 
tor and engineer of a working train on the Lake Shore and Michigan 
Southern Railway, running between Buffalo and Erie, which passes through 
this city (Dunkirk, N. Y.). I often went with him to the Grave Bank, 
where he had his headquarters, and returned on his train with him. On 
one occasion I was with him, and after the train of cars was loaded, we 
went together to the telegraph office to see if there were any orders, and 
to find out if the trains were on time, as he had to keep out of the way 
of all regular trains. After looking over the train reports and finding 
them all on time, we started for Buffalo. As we approached near West- 
field Station, running about 12 miles per hour, and when within about 
one mile of a long curve in the line, my brother all of a sudden shut off 
the steam, and quickly stepping over to the fireman's side of the engine, 
he looked out of the cab window, and then to the rear of his train to see 
if there was anything the matter with either. Not discovering anything 
wrong, he stopped and put on steam, but almost immediately again shut 
it off and gave the signal for breaks and stopped. After inspecting the 
engine and train and finding nothing wrong, he seemed very much ex- 
cited, and for a short time he acted as if he did not know where he was 
or what to do. I asked what was the matter. He replied that he did not 
know, when, after looking at his watch and orders, he said that he felt 
that there was some trouble on the line of the road. I suggested that 
he had better run his train to the station and find out. He then ordered 
his flagman with his flag to go ahead around the curve, which was just 
ahead of us, and he would follow with the train. The flagman started 
and had just time to flag an extra express train, with the General Super- 
intendent and others on board, coming full 40 [forty] miles per hour. The 
Superintendent inquired what he was doing there, and if he did not re- 
ceive orders to keep out of the way of the extra. My brother told him that 
he had not received orders and did not know of any extra train coming; 
that we had both examined the train reports before leaving the station. 
The train then backed to the station, where it was found that no orders had 
been given. The train despatcher was at once discharged from the road, 
and from that time to this both my brother and myself are unable to ac- 
count for his stopping the train as he did. I consider it quite a mystery, and 
cannot give or find any intelligent reason for it. Can you suggest any ? 

The above is true and correct in every particular. 

1 For a somewhat similar case, possibly due to hyperesthesia of hearing, see Amer- 
ican Journal of Psychology , vol. iii. p. 435 (September 1890). 


In other cases again some subliminal sense of smell may be conjec- 
tured. 1 

Tactile sensibility, too, must be carefully allowed for. The sense of 
varying resistance in the air may reach in some seeing persons, as well as 
in the blind, a high degree of acuteness. 2 

But there are cases of sudden motor inhibition where no warning can 
well have been received from hyperaesthetic sensation, where we come, as 
it seems, to telaesthesia or to spirit guardianship. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 459.) 

Four years ago, I made arrangements with my nephew, John W. 
Parsons, to go to my office after supper to investigate a case. We walked 
along together, both fully determined to go up into the office, but just 
as I stepped upon the door sill of the drug store, in which my office was 
situated, some invisible influence stopped me instantly. I was much 
surprised, felt like I was almost dazed, the influence was so strong, almost 
like a blow, I felt like I could not make another step. I said to my nephew, 
" John, I do not feel like going into the office now; you go and read Flint 
and Aitken on the subject." He went, lighted the lamp, took off his 
hat, and just as he was reaching for a book the report of a large pistol 
was heard. The ball entered the window near where he was standing, 
passed near to and over his head, struck the wall and fell to the floor. 
Had I been standing where he was, I would have been killed, as I am 
much taller than he. The pistol was fired by a man who had an old 
grudge against me, and had secreted himself in a vacant house near by 
to assassinate me. 

This impression was unlike any that I ever had before. All my former 
impressions were slow in their development, grew stronger and stronger, 
until the maximum was reached. I did not feel that I was in any danger, 
and could not understand what the strong impression meant. The fellow 
was drunk, had been drinking for two weeks. If my system had been in 
a different condition — I had just eaten supper — I think I would have re- 
ceived along with the impression some knowledge of the character of the 
danger, and would have prevented my nephew from going into the office. 

I am fully satisfied that the invisible and unknown intelligence did 
the best that could have been done, under the circumstances, to save us 
from harm. 

D. J. Parsons, M.D., Sweet Springs, Mo. 

(The above account was received in a letter from Dr. D. J. Parsons, 
dated December i$th, 1891.) 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 419 and 421 [821 A]. 

2 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi, p. 422 and 423 [§§822 and 823]; also a case 
given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 345, where a lady hurrying up to the door 
of a lift, is stopped by seeing a figure of a man standing in front of it, and then 
finds that the door is open, leaving the well exposed, so that she would probably 
have fallen down it, if she had not been checked by the apparition. 


Statement of Dr. J. W. Parsons. 

About four years ago my uncle, Dr. D. J. Parsons, and I were going 
to supper, when a man halted us and expressed a desire for medical ad- 
vice. My uncle requested him to call the next morning, and as we walked 
along he said the case was a bad one and that we would come back after 
supper and go to the office and examine the authorities on the subject. 
After supper we returned, walked along together on our way to the office, 
but just as we reached the door of the drug store he very unexpectedly, 
to me, stopped suddenly, which caused me to stop too; we stood there 
together a few seconds, and he remarked to me that he did not feel like 
going into the office then, or words to that effect, and told me to go and 
examine Flint and Aitken. I went, lit the lamp, and just as I was getting 
a book, a pistol was fired into the office, the ball passing close to my head, 
struck the east wall, then the north, and fell to the floor. 

This 5 th day of July, 1891. 

John W. Parsons [Ladonia, Texas.] 

In the next group of cases, we reach a class of massive motor impulses 
which are almost entirely free from any sensory admixture. 

Take for instance the case of Mr. Garrison, who left a religious meeting 
in the evening, and walked eighteen miles under the strong impulse to see 
his mother, and found her dead. The account is given in the Journal 
S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 125 [§ 825]. 

In another case, that of Major Kobbe (given in Phantasms of the Living, 
vol. i. p. 288), the percipient was prompted to visit a distant cemetery, 
without any conscious reason, and there found his father, who had, in 
fact, for certain unexpected reasons, sent to his son, Major Kobbe, a request 
(accidentally not received) to meet him at that place and hour. 

In a third case, Mr. Skirving (see Phantasms of the Living, vol. i. 
p. 285 [825 A]) was irresistibly compelled to leave his work and go 
home — why, he knew not — at the moment when his wife was in fact 
calling for him in the distress of a serious accident. See also a case given 
in Phantasms 0} the Living, vol. ii. p. 377, where a bricklayer has a 
sudden impulse to run home, and arrives just in time to save the life 
of his little boy, who had set himself on fire. 

This special sensibility to the motor element in an impulse recalls to us 
the special susceptibilities to different forms of hallucination or suggestion 
shown by different hypnotic subjects. Some can be made to see, some to 
hear, some to act out the conception proposed to them. Dr. Berillon * has 
even shown that certain subjects who seem at first quite refractory to hyp- 
no tisation are nevertheless at once obedient, even in the waking state, to 

1 Revue de VHypnotisme, March 1893, p. 268. 


a motor suggestion. This was the case both with a very strong man, with 
weak men and women, and with at least one subject actually suffering 
from locomotor ataxy. Thus the loss of supraliminal motor control over 
certain muscular combinations may actually lead to motor suggestibility 
as regards those combinations; just as the loss of supraliminal sensation 
in some anaesthetic patch may lead to a special subliminal sensitiveness in 
the very directions where the superficial sensibility has sunk away. On 
the other hand, a specially well-developed motor control may predispose 
in a similar way; — as for instance, the subject who can sing already is 
more easily made to sing by suggestion. We must, then, await further 
observations before we can pretend to say beforehand with which automa- 
tist the messages will take a sensory, and with which a motor form. 

Still less can we explain the special predisposition of each experimenter 
to one or more of the common kinds of motor automatism — as automatic 
speech, automatic writing, table movements, raps, and so forth. These 
forms of messages may themselves be variously combined; and the con- 
tents of a message of any one of these kinds may be purely dream-like and 
fantastic, or may be veridical in various ways. 

Let us enumerate the modes of subliminal motor message as nearly as 
we can in order of their increasing specialisation. 

1. We may place first the massive motor impulses (like Mr. Garrison's) 
which mark a kind of transition between ccenesthetic affections and motor 
impulses proper. There was here no impulse to special movement of any 
limb; but an impulse to reach a certain place by ordinary methods. 

2. Next, perhaps, in order of specialisation come the simple subliminal 
muscular impulses which give rise to table-tilting and similar phenomena. 

3. Musical execution, subliminally initiated, might theoretically be 
placed next; although definite evidence of this is hard to obtain, since the 
threshold of consciousness with musical performers is notoriously apt to 
be shifting and indefinite. ("When in doubt, play with your fingers, and 
not with your head.") 

4. Next we may place automatic drawing and painting. This curious 
group of messages has but seldom a telepathic content, and, as was sug- 
gested in Chapter III., is more akin to genius and similar non- telepathic 
forms of subliminal faculty. 1 

5. Next comes automatic writing, on which much remains to be said 
in this chapter. 

1 When the automatic drawings have any telepathic or other supernormal 
content, they are usually associated with automatic writing. Compare the case 
of Mr. Cameron Grant {Phantasms of the Living, vol. ii. p. 690). 


6. Automatic speech, which would not seem to be per se a more de- 
veloped form of motor message than automatic script, is often accompanied 
by profound changes of memory or of personality which raise the question 
of "inspiration" or "possession"; — for the two words, however different 
their theological import, mean much the same thing from the standpoint 
of experimental psychology. 

7. I must conclude my list with a class of motor phenomena which I 
shall here merely record in passing, without attempting any explanation. 
I allude to raps, and to those telekinetic movements of objects whose real 
existence is still matter of controversy. 

Comparing this list of motor automatisms with the sensory automatisms 
enumerated in Chapter VI., we shall find a certain general tendency running 
through each alike. The sensory automatisms began with vague unspe- 
cialised sensations. They then passed through a phase of definition, of 
specialisation on the lines of the known senses. And finally they reached 
a stage beyond these habitual forms of specialisation: beyond them, as of 
wider reach, and including in an apparently unanalysable act of perception 
a completer truth than any of our specialised forms of perception could by 
itself convey. With motor messages, too, we begin with something of 
similar vagueness. They, too, develop from modifications of the per- 
cipient's general organic condition, or ccenesthesia; and the first dim tele- 
pathic impulse apparently hesitates between several channels of expression. 
They then pass through various definitely specialised forms; and finally, 
as we shall see when automatic script is considered, they, too, merge into 
an unanalysable act of cognition in which the motor element of the message 
has disappeared. But these motor messages point also in another even 
more perplexing direction. They lead, as I have said above, towards 
the old idea of possession; — using the word simply as an expression for 
some form of temporary manifestation of some veritably distinct and 
alien personality through the physical organism of some man or woman, 
as is well exemplified in many cases of automatic writing. In Europe 
and America the phenomenon of automatic writing first came into 
notice as an element in so-called "modern spiritualism" about the 
middle of the nineteenth century; but the writings of W. Stainton 
Moses — about 1870-80 — were perhaps the first continuous series of 
such messages which could be regarded as worthy of serious attention. 
Mr. Moses — a man whose statements could not be lightly set aside — 
claimed for them that they were the direct utterances of departed per- 
sons, some of them lately dead, some dead long ago. However they 
were really to be explained, they strongly impressed Edmund Gurney 


and myself and added to our desire to work at the subject in as many 
ways as we could. 

It was plain that these writings could not be judged aright without a 
wide analysis of similar scripts, — without an experimental inquiry into 
what the human mind, in states of somnambulism or the like, could fur- 
nish of written messages, apart from the main stream of consciousness. 
By his experiments on writing obtained in different stages of hypnotic 
trance, Gurney acted as the pioneer of a long series of researches which, 
independently set on foot by Professor Pierre Janet in France, have become 
of high psychological, and even medical, importance. What is here of 
prime interest is the indubitable fact that fresh personalities can be arti- 
ficially and temporarily created, which will write down matter quite alien 
from the first personality's character, and even matter which the first per- 
sonality never knew. That matter may consist merely of reminiscences 
of previous periods when the second personality has been in control. But, 
nevertheless, if these writings are shown to the primary personality, he 
will absolutely repudiate their authorship — alleging not only that he has 
no recollection of writing them, but also that they contain allusions to 
facts which he never knew. Some of these messages, indeed, although 
their source is so perfectly well defined — although we know the very 
moment when the secondary personality which wrote them was called 
into existence — do certainly look more alien from the automatist in his 
normal state than many of the messages which claim to come from spirits 
of lofty type. It is noticeable, moreover, that these manufactured per- 
sonalities sometimes cling obstinately to their fictitious names, and refuse 
to admit that they are in reality only aspects or portions of the automatist 
himself. This must be remembered when the persistent claim to some 
spiritual identity — say Napoleon — is urged as an argument for attribu- 
ting a series of messages to that special person. 

What has now been said may suffice as regards the varieties of mech- 
anism — the different forms of motor automatism — which the messages 
employ. I shall pass on to consider the contents of the messages, and shall 
endeavour to classify them according to their apparent sources. 

A. In the first place, the message may come from the percipient's own 
mind; its contents being supplied from the resources of his ordinary mem- 
ory, or of his more extensive subliminal memory; while the dramatisation 
of the message — its assumption of some other mind as its source — will 
resemble the dramatisations of dream or of hypnotic trance. 

Of course the absence of facts unknown to the writer is not in itself a 
proof that the message does not come from some other mind. We cannot 


be sure that other minds, if they can communicate, will always be at the 
pains to fill their messages with evidential facts. But, equally of course, 
a message devoid of such facts must not, on the strength of its mere asser- 
tions, be claimed as the product of any but the writer's own mind. 

B. Next above the motor messages whose content the automatist's own 
mental resources might supply, we may place the messages whose content 
seems to be derived telepathically from the mind of some other person 
still living on earth; that person being either conscious or unconscious 
of transmitting the suggestion. 

C. Next comes the possibility that the message may emanate from 
some unembodied intelligence of unknown type — other, at any rate, than 
the intelligence of the alleged agent. Under this heading come the views 
which ascribe the messages on the one hand to "elementaries," or even 
devils, and on the other hand to " guides" or "guardians" of superhuman 
goodness and wisdom. 

D. Finally we have the possibility that the message may be derived, 
in a more or less direct manner, from the mind of the agent — the de- 
parted friend — from whom the communication does actually claim to 

My main effort has naturally been thus far directed to the proof that 
there are messages which do not fall into the lowest class, A — in which 
class most psychologists would still place them all. And I myself — while 
reserving a certain small portion of the messages for my other classes — 
do not only admit but assert that the great majority of such communica- 
tions represent the subliminal workings of the automatist's mind alone. 
It does not, however, follow that such messages have for us no interest or 
novelty. On the contrary, they form an instructive, an indispensable 
transition from psychological introspection of the old-fashioned kind to 
the bolder methods on whose validity I am anxious to insist. The mind's 
subliminal action, as thus revealed, differs from the supraliminal in ways 
which no one anticipated, and which no one can explain. There seem to 
be subliminal tendencies setting steadily in certain obscure directions, and 
bearing as little relation to the individual characteristics of the person to 
the deeps of whose being we have somehow penetrated as profound ocean- 
currents bear to waves and winds on the surface of the sea. 1 

x See James's Psychology, vol. i. p. 394: "One curious thing about trance utter- 
ances is their generic similarity in different individuals. ... It seems exactly as if 
one author composed more than half of the trance messages, no matter by whom 
they are uttered. Whether all sub-conscious selves are peculiarly susceptible to a 
certain stratum of the Zeitgeist, and get their inspiration from it, I know not." See 


Another point also, of fundamental importance, connected with the 
powers of the subliminal self, will be better deferred until a later chapter. 
I have said that a message containing only facts normally known to the 
automatist must not, on the strength of its mere assertions, be regarded as 
proceeding from any mind but his own. This seems evident; but the 
converse proposition is not equally indisputable. We must not take for 
granted that a message which does contain facts not normally known to 
the automatist must therefore come from some mind other than his own. 
If the subliminal self can acquire supernormal knowledge at all, it may 
obtain such knowledge by means other than telepathic impressions from 
other minds. It may assimilate its supernormal nutriment also by a 
directer process — it may devour it not only cooked but raw. Parallel 
with the possibilities of reception of such knowledge from the influence 
of other embodied or disembodied minds lies the possibility of its own 
clairvoyant perception, or active absorption of some kind, of facts lying 
indefinitely beyond its supraliminal purview. 

Now, as I have said, the great majority of the nunciative or message- 
bearing motor automatisms originate in the automatist's own mind, and 
do not involve the exercise of telepathy or telaesthesia, or any other super- 
normal faculty; but they illustrate in various ways the coexistence of the 
subliminal with the supraliminal self, its wider memory, and its independent 

I need not here multiply instances of the simpler and commoner forms 
of this type, and I will merely quote in illustration one short case recounted 
by Mr. H. Arthur Smith (author of The Principles of Equity, and a member 
of the Council of the Society for Psychical Research) who has had the 
patience to analyse many communications through "Planchette." 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ii. p. 233. ) l Mr. Smith and his nephew 

the account of automatic and impressional script, by Mr. Sidney Dean, which Pro- 
fessor James goes on to quote, and which is closely parallel to (for instance) Miss 
A.'s case, to be referred to below, although the one series of messages comes from the 
hand of a late member of Congress, "all his life a robust and active journalist, 
author, and man of affairs," and the other from a young lady with so different a 
history and entourage. 

1 Some other cases of Mr. Smith's will be found in this volume. See also Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 25 [§ 831] for a case of Prof. Sidgwick's, and Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. ii. pp. 226-231 for the complex " Clelia " case. Other cases 
of imaginary personalities are to be found in the accounts of possession which 
have come down to us from the "Ages of Faith." See for example the auto- 
biography of Sceur Jeanne des Anges {Biblioteque Diabolique [collection Bourneville] 
Paris, 1886). 



placed their hands on the Planchette, and a purely fantastic name was 
given as that of the communicating agency. 

Q. "Where did you live?" A. "Wem." This name was quite 
unknown to any of us. I am sure it was to myself, and as sure of the 
word of the others as of that of any one I know. 

Q. "Is it decided who is to be Archbishop of Canterbury?" A. "Yes." 

Q. "Who?" A. "Durham." As none of us remembered his name, 
we asked. 

"What is his name?" A. "Lightfoot." Of course, how far the 
main statement is correct, I don't know. The curiosity at the time rested 
in the fact that the name was given which none of us could recall, but 
was found to be right. 

Now, this is just one of the cases which a less wary observer might 
have brought forward as evidence of spirit agency. An identity, it would 
be said, manifested itself, and gave an address which none present had 
ever heard. But I venture to say that there cannot be any real proof that 
an educated person has never heard of Wem. A permanent recorded 
fact, like the name of a town which is to be found (for instance) in Brad- 
shaw's Guide, may at any moment have been presented to Mr. Smith's 
eye, and have found a lodgment in his subliminal memory. 

Similarly in the answers "Durham" and "Lightfoot" we are reminded 
of cases where in a dream we ask a question with vivid curiosity, and are 
astonished at the reply; which nevertheless proceeds from ourselves as 
undoubtedly as does the inquiry. The prediction in this case was wrong. 

What we have been shown is an independent activity of the subliminal 
self holding colloquies with the supraliminal, and nothing more. Yet we 
shall find, if we go on accumulating instances of the same general type, 
that traces of telaesthesia and telepathy begin insensibly to show themselves; 
not at first with a distinctness or a persistence sufficient for actual proof, 
but just in the same gradual way in which indications of supernormal 
faculty stole in amid the disintegration of split personalities; or in which 
indications of some clairvoyant outlook stole in amid the incoherence of 
dream. Many of these faint indications, valueless, as I have said, for 
purely evidential purposes, are nevertheless of much theoretical interest, 
as showing how near is the subliminal self to that region of supernormal 
knowledge which for the supraliminal is so definitely closed. 1 

Mr. Schiller's case (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iv. pp. 216-224) 
[832 A] is a good example of these obscure transitions between normal 
and supernormal, and introduces us to several phenomena which we 

1 For the description of a curious case combining various motor automatisms in 
a very unusual way, see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 182 [§ 833]. 


shall afterwards find recurring again and again in independent quarters. 
Dramatisation of fictitious personalities, for instance, which forms so 
marked a feature in Professor Flournoy's celebrated case (to be dis- 
cussed later), begins in this series of experiments, conducted throughout 
with a purely scientific aim, and with no sort of belief in the imaginary 
"Irktomar" and the rest. It seems as though this " objectivation of 
types" were part of a romance which some inscrutable but childish 
humorist was bent on making up. The " cryptomnesia " shown in this 
case through the reproduction of scraps of old French with which the 
automatist had no conscious acquaintance, reached a point at which 
(as again in Professor Flournoy's case) one is almost driven to suspect 
that it was aided by some slight clairvoyance on the part of the sub- 
liminal self. 

Indeed as the cases become increasingly complex, one wonders to 
what extent this strange manufacture of inward romances can be 
carried. There is, I may say, a great deal more of it in the world 
than is commonly suspected. I have myself received so many cases 
of these dramatised utterances — as though a number of different 
spirits were writing in turn through some automatist's hand — that I 
have come to recognise the operation of some law of dreams, so to call 
it, as yet but obscurely understood. The alleged personalities are for 
the most part not only unidentified, but purposely unidentifiable; they 
give themselves romantic or ludicrous names, and they are produced 
and disappear as lightly as puppets on a mimic stage. The main- 
curiosity of such cases lies in their very persistence and complexity; 
it would be a waste of space to quote any of the longer ones in such a 
way as to do them justice. And, fortunately, there is no need for me to 
give any of my own cases; since a specially good case has been specially 
well observed and reported in a book with which many of my readers are 
probably already acquainted, — Professor Flournoy's Des Indes a la 
planete Mars : Etude sur un cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie (Paris 
and Geneva, 1900). I shall here make some comments on that striking 
record, which all students of these subjects ought to study in detail. 

It happens, no doubt, to any group which pursues for many years a 
somewhat unfamiliar line of inquiry, that those of their points which are 
first assailed get gradually admitted, so that as they become interested in 
new points they may scarcely observe what change has taken place in the 
reception of the old. The reader of early volumes of the Proceedings 
S.P.R. will often observe this kind of progress of opinion. And now Pro- 
fessor Flournoy's book indicates in a remarkable way how things have 


moved in the psychology of the last twenty years. The book — a model 
of fairness throughout — is indeed, for the most part, critically destructive 
in its treatment of the quasi-supernormal phenomena with which it deals. 
But what a mass of conceptions a competent psychologist now takes for 
granted in this realm, which the official science of twenty years ago would 
scarcely stomach our hinting at! 

One important point may be noticed at once as decisively corroborating 
a contention of my own made long ago, and at a time when it probably 
seemed fantastic to many readers. Arguing for the potential continuity of 
subliminal mentation (as against those who urged that there were only 
occasional flashes of submerged thought, like scattered dreams), I said 
that it would soon be found needful to press this notion of a continuous 
subliminal self to the utmost, if we were not prepared to admit a continuous 
spiritual guidance or possession. Now, in fact, with Professor Flournoy ? s 
subject the whole discussion turns on this very point. There is unques- 
tionably a continuous and complex series of thoughts and feelings going 
on beneath the threshold of consciousness of Mile. "Helene Smith." Is 
this submerged mentation due in any degree or in any manner to the opera- 
tion of spirits other than Mile. Smith's own? That is the broad question; 
but it is complicated here by a subsidiary question: whether, namely, any 
previous incarnations of Mile. Smith's — other phases of her own spiritual 
history, now involving complex relationship with the past — have any 
part in the crowd of personalities which seem struggling to express them- 
selves through her quite healthy organism. 

Mile. Smith, I should at once say, is not, 1 and never has been, a paid 
medium. At the date of M. Flournoy's book, she occupied a leading post 
on the staff of a large maison de commerce at Geneva, and gave seances to 
her friends simply because she enjoyed the exercise of her mediumistic 
faculties, and was herself interested in their explanation. 

Her organism, I repeat, is regarded, both by herself and by others, as 
a quite healthy one. Mile. Smith, says Professor Flournoy, declares dis- 
tinctly that she is perfectly sound in body and mind — in no way lacking 
in equilibrium — and indignantly repudiates the idea that there is any 
hurtful anomaly or the slightest danger in mediumship as she practises it. 

"It is far from being demonstrated," he continues, "that medium- 
ship is a pathological phenomenon. It is abnormal, no doubt, in the 
sense of being rare, exceptional; but rarity is not morbidity. The few 
years during which these phenomena have been seriously and scientifically 

1 For Mile. Smith's later history, see Professor Flournoy's Nouvelles Observa- 
tions sur un cas de Somnambulisnte, Geneva, 1902. 


studied have not been enough to allow us to pronounce on their true nature. 
It is interesting to note that in the countries where these studies have been 
pushed the furthest, in England and America, the dominant view among 
the savants who have gone deepest into the matter is not at all unfavour- 
able to mediumship; and that, far from regarding it as a special case of 
hysteria, they see in it a faculty superior, advantageous, healthy, of which 
hysteria is a form of degenerescence, a pathological parody, a morbid 

The phenomena which this sensitive presents (Helene Smith is Pro- 
fessor Flournoy's pseudonym for her) cover a range which looks at first 
very wide, although a clearer analysis shows that these varieties are more 
apparent than real, and that self-suggestion will perhaps account for all 
of them. 

There is, to begin with, every kind of automatic irruption of subliminal 
into supraliminal life. As Professor Flournoy says (p. 45): " Phenomena 
of hypermnesia, divinations, mysterious findings of lost objects, happy 
inspirations, exact presentiments, just intuitions, teleological (purposive or 
helpful) automatisms, in short, of every kind; she possesses in a high degree 
this small change of genius — which constitutes a more than sufficient 
compensation for the inconvenience resulting from those distractions and 
moments of absence of mind which accompany her visions; and which, 
moreover, generally pass unobserved.' ' 

At seances — where the deeper change has no inconveniences — ■ 
Helene undergoes a sort of self-hypnotisation which produces various 
lethargic and somnambulistic states. And when she is alone and safe 
from interruption she has spontaneous visions, during which there may 
be some approach to ecstasy. At the seances she experiences positive 
hallucinations, and also negative hallucinations, or systematised anaes- 
thesiae, so that, for instance, she will cease to see some person present, 
especially one who is to be the recipient of messages in the course of the 
seance. "It seems as though a dream-like incoherence presided over 
this preliminary work of disaggregation, in which the normal perceptions 
are arbitrarily split up or absorbed by the subconscious personality — 
eager for materials with which to compose the hallucinations which it is 
preparing." Then, when the seance begins, the main actor is Helene's 
guide Leopold (a pseudonym for Cagliostro) who speaks and writes through 
her, and is, in fact, either her leading spirit-control or (much more probably) 
her most developed form of secondary personality. 

" Leopold," says Professor Flournoy (p. 134), "certainly manifests a 
very honourable and amiable side of Mile. Smith's character, and in taking 


him as her 'guide' she has followed inspirations which are doubtless 
among the highest in her nature." 

The high moral quality of these automatic communications, on which 
Professor Flournoy thus insists, is a phenomenon worth consideration. 

I do not mean that it is specially strange in the case of Mile. Smith. 
But the almost universally high moral tone of genuinely automatic utter- 
ances has not, I think, been sufficiently noticed or adequately explained. 

In evidential messages — where there is real reason to believe that 
an identified spirit is communicating — there is a marked and inde- 
pendent consensus on such matters as these spirits profess themselves 
able to discuss. 

And again in non-evidential messages — in communications which 
probably proceed from the automatist's subliminal self — I hold that 
there is a remarkable and undesigned concordance in high moral tone, 
and also in avoidance of certain prevalent tenets, which many of the 
automatists do supraliminally hold as true. But I also insist that these 
subliminal messages, even when not incoherent, are generally dream-like, 
and often involve tenets which (though never in my experience base or 
immoral) are unsupported by evidence, and are probably to be referred 
to mere self-suggestion. 

Prominent among such tenets is one which forms a large part of Mile. 
Smith's communications; namely, the doctrine of reincarnation, or of 
successive lives spent by each soul upon this planet. 

The simple fact that such was probably the opinion both of Plato and 
of Virgil shows that there is nothing here which is alien to the best reason 
or to the highest instincts of men. Nor, indeed, is it easy to realise any 
theory of the direct creation of spirits at such different stages of advance- 
ment as those which enter upon the earth in the guise of mortal man. 
There must, one feels, be some kind of continuity — some form of spiritual 
Past. "Yet for reincarnation there is at present no valid evidence; and 
it must be my duty to show how its assertion in any given instance — 
Mile. Smith's included — constitutes in itself a strong argument in favour 
of self-suggestion rather than extraneous inspiration as the source of the 
messages in which it appears. 

Whenever civilised men have received what they have regarded as a 
revelation (which has generally been somewhat fragmentary in its first 
delivery) they have naturally endeavoured to complete and systematise 
it as well as they could. In so doing they have mostly aimed at three 
objects: (i) to understand as much as possible of the secrets of the universe; 
(2) to justify as far as possible Heaven's dealings with men; and (3) to 


appropriate as far as possible the favour or benefit which the revelation 
may show as possibly accruing to believers. For all these purposes the 
doctrine of reincarnation has proved useful in many countries and times. 
But in no case could it seem more appropriate than in this last revelation 
(so to term it) through automatic messages and the like. And as a matter 
of history, a certain vigorous preacher of the new faith, known under the 
name of Allan Kardec, took up reincarnationist tenets, enforced them (as 
there is reason to believe) by strong suggestion upon the minds of various 
automatic writers, and set them forth in dogmatic works which have had 
much influence, especially among Latin nations, from their clarity, sym- 
metry, and intrinsic reasonableness. Yet the data thus collected were 
absolutely insufficient, and the Livre des Esprits must simply rank as the 
premature formulation of a new religion — the premature systematisation 
of a nascent science. 

I follow Professor Flournoy in believing that the teaching of that work 
must have directly or indirectly influenced the mind of Mile. Smith, and 
is therefore responsible for her claim to these incarnations previous to that 
which she now undergoes or enjoys. 

On the general scheme here followed, each incarnation, if the last has 
been used aright, ought to represent some advance in the scale of being. 
If one earth-life has been misused, the next earth-life ought to afford op- 
portunity for expiation — or for further practice in the special virtue which 
has been imperfectly acquired. Thus Mile. Smith's present life in a humble 
position may be thought to atone for her overmuch pride in her last incar- 
nation — as Marie Antoinette. 

But the mention of Marie Antoinette suggests the risk which this 
theory fosters — of assuming that one is the issue of a distinguished line 
of spiritual progenitors; insomuch that, with whatever temporary sets- 
back, one is sure in the end to find oneself in a leading position. 

Pythagoras, indeed, was content with the secondary hero Euphorbus 
as his bygone self. But in our days Dr. Anna Kingsford and Mr. Edward 
Maitland must needs have been the Virgin Mary and St. John the Divine. 
And Victor Hugo, who was naturally well to the front in these self-multi- 
plications, took possession of most of the leading personages of antiquity 
whom he could manage to string together in chronological sequence. It 
is obvious that any number of re-born souls can play at this game; but 
where no one adduces any evidence it seems hardly worth while to go on. 
Even Pythagoras does not appear to have adduced any evidence beyond 
his ipse dixit for his assertion that the alleged shield of Euphorbus had in 
reality been borne by that mythical hero. Meantime the question as to 



reincarnation has actually been put to a very few spirits who have given 
some real evidence of their identity. So far as I know, no one of these 
has claimed to know anything personally of such an incident; although 
all have united in saying that their knowledge was too limited to allow 
them to generalise on the matter. 

Helene's controls and previous incarnations — to return to our subject 
— do perhaps suffer from the general fault of aiming too high. She has 
to her credit a control from the planet Mars; one pre-incarnation as an 
Indian Princess ; and a second (as I have said) as Marie Antoinette. 

In each case there are certain impressive features in the impersonation; 
but in each case also careful analysis negatives the idea that we can be 
dealing with a personality really revived from a former epoch, or from a 
distant planet; — and leaves us inclined to explain everything by "cryp- 
tomnesia" (as Professor Flournoy calls submerged memory), and that 
subliminal inventiveness of which we already know so much. 

The Martian control was naturally the most striking at first sight. Its 
reality was supported by a Martian language, written in a Martian alphabet, 
spoken with fluency, and sufficiently interpreted into French to show that 
such part of it, at any rate, as could be committed to writing was actually 
a grammatical and coherent form of speech. 

And here I reach an appropriate point at which to remark that this 
book of Professor Flournoy's is not the first account which has been pub- 
lished of Mile. Helene. Professor Lemaitre, of Geneva, printed two 
papers about her in the Annates des Sciences Psychiques : first, a long 
article in the number for March- April, 1897 — then a reply to M. Le- 
febure in the number for May- June, 1897. In these papers he distinctly 
claims supernormal powers for Mile. Helene, implying a belief in her 
genuine possession by spirits, and even in her previous incarnations, and in 
the extra-terrene or ostensibly Martian language. I read these papers 
at the time, but put them aside as inconclusive, mainly because that very 
language, on which M. Lemaitre seemed most to rely, appeared to me so 
obviously factitious as to throw doubt on all the evidence presented by 
an observer who could believe that denizens of another planet talked to 
each other in a language corresponding in every particular with simple 
French idioms, and including such words as quisa for quel, quise for quelle, 
veteche for voir, vlche for vu; — the fantastic locutions of the nursery. 
M. Lemaitre remarks, as a proof of the consistency and reality of the extra- 
terrene tongue, "L'un des premiers mots que nous ayons eus, metiche, 
signifiant monsieur, se retrouve plus tard avec le sens de homme." That 
is to say, having transmogrified monsieur into m&tiche, Helene further 


transmutes les messieurs into cte metiche; — in naive imitation of ordinary 
French usage. And this tongue is supposed to have sprung up indepen- 
dently of all the influences which have shaped terrene grammar in general 
or the French idiom in particular! And even after Professor Flournoy's 
analysis of this absurdity I see newspapers speaking of this Martian lan- 
guage as an impressive phenomenon! They seem willing to believe that 
the evolution of another planet, if it has culminated in conscious life at 
all, can have culminated in a conscious life into which we could all of us 
enter affably, with a suitable Ollendorff's phrase-book under our arms; 

— "eni cee metiche one qude" — "ici les hommes (messieurs) sont bons," 

— "here the men are good"; — and the rest of it. 

To the student of automatisms, of course, all this irresistibly suggests 
the automatist's own subliminal handiwork. It is a case of "glossolaly," 
or "speaking with tongues"; and we have no modern case — no case later 
than the half -mythical Miracles of the Cevennes — where such utterance 
has proved to be other than gibberish. I have had various automatic 
hieroglyphics shown to me, with the suggestion that they may be cursive 
Japanese, or perhaps an old dialect of Northern China; but I confess that 
I have grown tired of showing these fragments to the irresponsive expert, 
who suggests that they may also be vague reminiscences of the scrolls in 
an Oriental tea-tray. 

It seems indeed to be a most difficult thing to get telepathically into 
any brain even fragments of a language which it has not learnt. A few 
simple Italian, and even Hawaiian, words occur in Mrs. Piper's utter- 
ances, coming apparently from departed spirits (Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. xiii. pp. 337 and 384 [960 A and § 961] ), but these, with some 
Kaffir and Chinese words given through Miss Browne (Proceedings S.P.R., 
vol. ix. pp. 124-127 [871 A]), form, I think, almost the only instances 
which I know. And, speaking generally, whatever is elaborate, finished, 
pretentious, is likely to be of subliminal facture; while only things scrappy, 
perplexed, and tentative, have floated to us veritably from afar. 

I need not here go into the details of the Hindow preincarnation or 
of the more modern and accessible characterisation of Marie Antoinette, 
but will pass on to certain minor, but interesting phenomena, which 
Professor Flournoy calls teleological automatisms. These are small acts 
of helpfulness — beneficent synergies, as we might term them, in contrast 
with the injurious synergies, or combined groups of hurtful actions, with 
which hysteria has made us familiar. 1 

1 We have already printed several incidents of this type in our Proceedings and 
Journal. (See, for instance, Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 344 [818 A].) 


"One day," says Professor Flournoy (p. 35), "Miss Smith, when 
desiring to lift down a large and heavy object which lay on a high shelf, 
was prevented from doing so because her raised arm remained for some 
seconds as though petrified in the air and incapable of movement. She 
took this as a warning, and gave up the attempt. At a subsequent seance 
Leopold stated that it was he who had thus fixed Helene's arm to prevent 
her from grasping this object, which was much too heavy for her and 
would have caused her some accident. 

"Another time, a shopman, who had been looking in vain for a certain 
pattern, asked Helene if by chance she knew what had become of it. 
Helene answered mechanically and without reflection — ' Yes, it has been 
sent to Mr. J.' (a client of the house). At the same time she saw before 
her the number 18 in large black figures a few feet from the ground, and 
added instinctively, 'It was sent eighteen days ago.' [This was in the 
highest degree improbable, but was found to be absolutely correct.] Leo- 
pold had no recollection of this, and does not seem to have been the 
author of this cryptomnesic automatism." 

A similar phenomenon has also been noted (p. 87) when warning 
is conveyed by an actual phantasmal figure. Mile. Smith has seen an 
apparition of Leopold, barring a particular road, under circumstances 
which make it probable that Mile. Smith would on that day have had 
cause to regret taking that route. 

This case of Professor Flournoy's, then — this classical case, as it 
may already be fairly termed — may serve here as our culminant example 
of the free scope and dominant activity of the unassisted subliminal self. 
The telepathic element in this case, if it exists, is relatively small; what 
we are watching in Mile. Helene Smith resembles, as I have said, a kind 
of exaggeration of the submerged constructive faculty, — a hypertrophy 
of genius — without the innate originality of mind which made even the 
dreams of R. L. Stevenson a source of pleasure to thousands of readers. 

In reference to the main purpose of this work, such cases as these, 
however curious, can be only introductory to automatisms of deeper 
moment. In our attempt to trace an evolutive series of phenomena in- 
dicating ever higher human faculty, the smallest telepathic incident, 
— the most trivial proof, if proof it be, of communication received without 
sensory intermediation from either an incarnate or a discarnate mind 
outweighs in importance the most complex ramifications and burgeonings 
of the automatisms own submerged intelligence. 

I pass on, then, to evidence which points, through motor automatisms, 
to supernormal faculty; and I shall begin by referring the reader to 


certain experiments (due to Professor Richet) in the simplest of all 
forms of motor automatism, viz., table-tilting, with results which only 
telepathy can explain. (See Appendix VIII. A.) 

Trivial though they seem, such experiments may with a little care 
be made absolutely conclusive. Had Professor Richet 's friends, for ex- 
ample, been willing to prolong this series, we might have had a standing 
demonstration of telepathy, reproducible at will. 1 

And now I pass on to some experiments with Planchette, in which 
an element of telepathy was shown. The following account from Mrs. 
Alfred Moberly, Tynwald, Hythe, Kent, is corroborated, with some 
additional examples, by two other ladies present at the time. 

(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ii. p. 235.) 

May gth, 1884. 

The operators were placed out of sight of the rest of the company, 
who selected — in silence — a photograph, one of an albumful, and 
fixed their attention on it. We — the operators — were requested to 
keep our minds a blank as far as possible and follow the first involuntary 
motion of the Planchette. In three out of five cases it wrote the name 
or initial or some word descriptive of the selected portrait. We also 
obtained the signatures to letters selected in the same manner. We both 
knew perfectly well that we were writing — not the spirits, as the rest 
of the company persist to this day in believing — but had only the slightest 
idea what the words might prove to be. 

We have tried it since, and generally with some curious result. A 
crucial test was offered by two gentlemen in the form of a question to 
which we couldn't possibly guess the answer. "Where's Toosey?" The 
answer came, "In Vauxhall Road." "Toosey," they explained, was 
a pet terrier who had disappeared; suspicion attaching to a plumber living 
in the road mentioned, who had been working at the house and whose 
departure coincided with Toosey's. 

Of course, in the case of the inquiry after the lost dog, we may sup- 
pose that the answer given came from the questioner's own mind. Mrs. 
Moberly and her friends seem to have been quite aware of this; and were 
little likely to fall into the not uncommon error of asking Planchette, 
for instance, what horse will win the Derby, and staking, perhaps, some 
pecuniary consideration on the extremely illusory reply. 2 

And now we come to the palmary case of the late Rev. P. H. Newn- 
ham, Vicar of Maker, Devonport, who was personally known to Edmund 
Gurney and myself, and was a man in all ways worthy of high respect. 

1 A somewhat similar but less complex set of experiments by Mr. G. M. Smith 
is given in the Journal S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 318-320 [843 B]. 

2 For further cases see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. pp. 2 and 5 [§§ 845 and 847]. 


The long series of communications between Mr. Newnham and his wife, 
which date back to 1871, and whose contemporaneous written record 
is preserved in the archives of the S.P.R., must, I think, always retain 
their primacy as early and trustworthy examples of a telepathic trans- 
ference where the percipient's automatic script answers questions penned 
by the agent in such a position that the percipient could not in any normal 
manner discern what those questions were. No part of our evidence 
seems to me more worthy of study than this. 1 

It must be distinctly understood that Mrs. Newnham did not see or 
hear the questions which Mr. Newnham wrote down. 2 The fact, there- 
fore, that her answers bore any relation to the questions shows that the 
sense of the questions was telepathically conveyed to her. This is the 
leading and important fact. The substance of the replies written is also 
interesting, and Mr. Newnham has some good comments thereon. But 
even had the replies contained no facts which Mrs. Newnham could not 
have known, this would not detract from the main value of the evidence, 
which consists in the fact that Mrs. Newnham' 's hand wrote replies clearly 
and repeatedly answering questions which she neither heard nor saw. 

In this case we have the advantage of seeing before us the entire 
series of questions and answers, and thus of satisfying ourselves that 
the misses (which in that case are very few) are marked as well as 
the hits, and consequently that the coincidences between question and 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. iii. pp. 8-23 [849 A]. For a series of experiments on 
a smaller scale but analogous to these see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. (1893), pp. 61-64. 

2 Mr. Newnham procured for me two autograph letters from eye-witnesses of 
some of the experiments, who do not, however, wish their names to be published. 
One writer says: "You wrote the question on a slip of paper and put it under one 
of the ornaments of the chimney-piece — no one seeing what you had written. Mrs. 
Newnham sat apart at a small table. I recollect you kept a book of the questions 
asked and answers given, as you thought some new power might be discovered, and 
you read me from it some of the results. I remember particularly questions and 
answers relating to the selection of a curate for B. My wife and her sister saw 
experiments conducted in this manner. Mrs. Newnham and you were sitting at 

different tables." Another eye-witness writes: "I and my sister were staying at , 

and were present at many of the Planchette experiments of Mr. and Mrs. Newnham. 
Mr. and Mrs. Newnham sat at different tables some distance apart, and in such a 
position that it was quite impossible Mrs. Newnham could see what question was 
written down. The subject of the questions was never mentioned even in a whisper. 
Mr. Newnham wrote them down in pencil and sometimes passed them to me and my 
sister to see, but not often. Mrs. Newnham immediately answered the questions. 
Though not always correct, they (the answers) always referred to the questions. 
Mr. Newnham copied out the pencil questions and answers verbatim each day into 
a diary." 


answer are at any rate not the result of chance. In several other cases 
which I have known, where the good faith of the informants has been 
equally above question, the possibility of an explanation by chance alone 
has been a more important element in the problem. All our evidence 
has tended to show that the telepathic power itself is a variable thing; 
that it shows itself in flashes, for the most part spontaneously, and seldom 
persists through a series of deliberate experiments. And if an automatist 
possessing power of this uncertain kind has exercised it at irregular mo- 
ments and with no scientific aim; — and has kept, moreover, no steady 
record of success and failure; — then it becomes difficult to say that even 
some brilliant coincidences afford cogent proof of telepathic action. 1 

I pass on to a small group of cases which form a curious transition 
from these communications inter vivos to communications which I shall 
class as coming from the dead. These are cases where the message pro- 
fesses to come from a deceased person, but shows internal evidence of 
having come, telepathically, from the mind of some one present, or, 
indeed, from some living person at a distance. (See the case given in 
Appendix VIII. B.) 

But this, although a real risk, is by no means the only risk of deception 
which such messages involve. The communication may conceivably 
come from some unembodied spirit indeed, but not from the spirit who 
is claimed as its author. 

The reader who wishes to acquaint himself with this new range of 
problems cannot do better than study the record of the varied experiences 
of automatic writing which have been intermingled with Miss A.'s crystal- 
visions, etc. 2 

There is no case that I have watched longer than Miss A.'s; — 
none where I have more absolute assurance of the scrupulous probity 
of the principal sensitive herself and of the group who share the experi- 
ments ; — but none also which leaves me more often baffled as to the unseen 
source of the information given. There is a knowledge both of the past 
and of the future, which seems capriciously limited, and is mingled with 
mistakes, yet on the other hand is of a nature which it is difficult to refer 
to any individual human mind, incarnate or discarnate. We meet here 
some of the first indications of a possibility that discarnate spirits com- 

1 For further cases see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix, p. 44 [851 A]; ibid. p. 48 
[§ 852]; ibid. p. 64 [§ 853]; ibid. p. 65 [§ 854]. Also Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ii. 
p. 236; vol. vi. pp. 112-115 [§ 855 and 856]; vol. xi. pp. 477-481 [852 B]; vol. ix. 
pp. 67-70 [857 A and 858 A]. 

3 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. (1893) pp. 73-92 [859 A and 625 CJ. 


municating with us have occasional access to certain sources of knowledge 
which even to themselves are inscrutably remote and obscure. 

The written diagnoses and prognoses given by the so-called "Semirus," 
often without Miss A.'s even seeing the patient or hearing the nature of 
his malady, have become more and more remarkable. Miss A. and her 
friends do not wish these private matters to be printed, and I cannot 
therefore insist upon the phenomena here. Yet in view of the amount 
of telaesthesia which Miss A.'s various automatisms reveal, it should 
first be noted that human organisms seem especially pervious to such 
vue a distance. " Semirus," "Gelalius," etc., are obvious pseudonyms; 
and neither Semirus , prescriptions nor Gelalius' cosmogony contain 
enough of indication to enable us to grasp their origin. 1 

From the communications of these remote personages I go on to cer- 
tain messages avowedly coming from persons more recently departed, 
and into which something more of definite personality seems to enter. 
One element of this kind is handwriting; there are many cases where 
resemblance of handwriting is one of the evidential points alleged. Now 
proof of identity from resemblance of handwriting may conceivably be 
very strong. But in estimating it we must bear two, points in mind. The 
first is that (like the resemblances of so-called " spirit-photographs " to 
deceased friends) it is often very loosely asserted. One needs, if not an 
expert's opinion, at least a careful personal scrutiny of the three scripts 
— the automatist's voluntary and his automatic script, and the deceased 
person's script — before one can feel sure that the resemblance is in more 
than some general scrawliness. This refers to the cases where the automa- 
tist has provably never seen the deceased person's handwriting. Where 
he has seen that handwriting, we have to remember (in the second place) 
that a hypnotised subject can frequently imitate any known handwriting 
far more closely than in his waking state; and that consequently we are 
bound to credit the subliminal self with a mimetic faculty which may 
come out in these messages without any supraliminal guidance what- 
ever on the automatist's part. In Proceedings S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 549- 
65 [864 A], is an account of a series of experiments by Professor Rossi- 
Pagnoni at Pesaro, into which the question of handwriting enters. The 
account illustrates automatic utterance as well as other forms of motor 
automatism, and possibly also telekinetic phenomena. The critical dis- 

1 For another series of messages which afford an interesting field for the discus- 
sion of the rival hypotheses of " cryptomnesia " and spirit-control, see Journal S.P.R., 
vol. iv. p. 319; op. cit. p. 174; and Proceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 92 [§§ 860, 861 
and 862 A], 


cussion of the evidence by Mr. H. Babington Smith, to whom we are 
indebted for the account, shows with what complex considerations we 
have to deal in the questions now before us. 

I now cite a few cases where the point of central interest is the an- 
nouncement of a death unknown to the sitters. 1 

In Appendix VIII. C is given a case which we received from Dr. Lie- 
beault, of Nancy, and which was first published in Phantasms of the Liv- 
ing (vol. i. p. 293), where it was regarded as an example of a spontaneous 
telepathic impulse proceeding directly from a dying person. I now re- 
gard it as more probably due to the action of the spirit after bodily death. 

I shall next give a resume of a case of curious complexity received 
from M. Aksakof; — an automatic message written by a Mdlle. Stramm, 
informing her of the death of a M. Duvanel. The principal incidents 
may here be disentangled as follows: — 

Duvanel dies by his own hand on January 15th, 1887, m a Swiss vil- 
lage, where he lives alone, having no relations except a brother living 
at a distance, whom Mdlle. Stramm had never seen (as the principal 
witness, M. Kaigorodoff, informs us in a letter of May 1890). 

Mdlle. Stramm's father does not hear of DuvanePs death till two days 
later, and sends her the news in a letter dated January 18th, 1887. 

Five hours after Duvanel' s death an automatic message announcing 
it is written at the house of M. Kaigorodoff, at Wilna in Russia, by Mdlle. 
Stramm, who had certainly at that time received no news of the event. 

From what mind are we to suppose that this information came? 

(1) We may first attempt to account for Mdlle. Stramm's message 
on the theory of latency. We may suppose that the telepathic message 
came from the dying man, but did not rise into consciousness until an 
opportunity was afforded by Mdlle. Stramm's sitting down to write auto- 

But to this interpretation there is an objection of a very curious kind. 
The message written by Mdlle. Stramm was not precisely accurate. In- 
stead of ascribing Duvanel's death to suicide, it ascribed it to a stoppage 
of blood, "un engorgement de sang." 

And when M. Stramm, three days after the death, wrote to his daughter 
in Russia to tell her of it, he also used the same expression, "un engorge- 
ment de sang," thus disguising the actual truth in order to spare the feel- 
ings of his daughter, who had formerly refused to marry Duvanel, and 
who (as her father feared) might receive a painful shock if she learnt 
the tragic nature of his end. There was, therefore, a singular coinci- 
dence between the automatic and the normally-written message as to the 
death; — a coincidence which looks as though the same mind had been 

1 For further examples see the cases given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. pp. 355- 
57; vol. viii. pp. 242-48; Journal S.P.R., vol. iii. pp. 216-19; v °l« i x - PP« 65-8; vol. 
ix. pp. 280-84 [868 A and B, 869 A and B, § 873]. 


at work in each instance. But that mind cannot have been M. Stramm's 
ordinary mind, as he was not supraliminally aware of Duvanel's death 
at the time when the first message was written. It may, however, be 
supposed that his subliminal self had received the information of the death 
telepathically, had transmitted it in a deliberately modified form to his 
daughter, while it remained latent in himself, and had afterwards in- 
fluenced his supraliminal self to modify the information in the same way 
when writing to her. 

(2) But we must also consider the explanation of the coincidence 
given by the intelligence which controlled the automatic writing. That 
intelligence asserted itself to be a brother of Mdlle. Stramm's, who died 
some years before. And this "Louis" further asserted that he had him- 
self influenced M. Stramm to make use of the same euphemistic phrase, 
with the object of avoiding a shock to Mdlle. Stramm; for which purpose 
it was needful that the two messages should agree in ascribing the death 
to the same form of sudden illness. 

Now if this be true, and the message did indeed come from the de- 
ceased " Louis," we have an indication of continued existence, and con- 
tinued knowledge of earthly affairs, on the part of a person long dead. 

But if we consider that the case, as presented to us, contains no proof 
of " Louis'" identity, so that "Louis" may be merely one of those arbi- 
trary names which the automatist's subliminal intelligence seems so prone 
to assume; then we must suppose that Duvanel was actually operative 
on two occasions after death, first inspiring in Mdlle. Stramm the auto- 
matic message, and then modifying in M. Stramm the message which 
the father might otherwise have sent. 

I next quote a case in Appendix VIII. D which illustrates the con- 
tinued terrene knowledge on the part of the dead of which other instances 
were given in the last chapter. 

And lastly, I give in Appendix VIII. E a case which in one respect 
stands alone. It narrates the success of a direct experiment, — a test- 
message planned before death, and communicated after death, by a man 
who held that the hope of an assurance of continued existence was worth 
at least a resolute effort, whatever its result might be. His tests, indeed, 
were two, and both were successful. One was the revealing of the place 
where, before death, he hid a piece of brick marked and broken for special 
recognition, and the other was the communication of the contents of a 
short letter which he wrote and sealed before death. We may say that 
the information was certainly not possessed supraliminally by any living 
person. There are two other cases (Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. pp. 353- 
355, and op. cit. vol. viii. pp. 238-242 [876 A and B]) where information 
given through automatists may hypothetically be explicable by telepathy 
from the living, although, indeed, in my own view, it probably emanated 
from the deceased as alleged. In one of these cases the place where a 


missing will had been hidden was revealed to the automatist, but it is not 
clear whether the will was actually discovered or not before the auto- 
matic writing was obtained (although the automatist was unaware of its 
discovery), and in any case, apparently, its whereabouts was known to 
some living person who had hidden it, and may not have been known 
to the deceased before death. 

In the other case the whereabouts of a missing note of hand was re- 
vealed to the automatists, and even if this could be regarded as absolutely 
unknown supraliminally to any living person, it is not by any means cer- 
tain that the fact was known before death to the deceased person from 
whom the message purported to come. 

These cases, therefore, are not such strong evidence for personal iden- 
tity as the one to which I have referred above, and which I have given, 
as recording what purports to be the successful accomplishment of an 
experiment which every one may make; — which every one ought to 
make; — for, small as may be the chances of success, a few score of dis- 
tinct successes would establish a presumption of man's survival which 
the common sense of mankind would refuse to explain away. 

Here, then, let us pause and consider to what point the evidence con- 
tained in this chapter has gradually led us. We shall perceive that the 
motor phenomena have confirmed, and have also greatly extended, the 
results to which the cognate sensory phenomena had already pointed. 
We have already noted, in each of the two states of sleep and of waking, 
the variously expanding capacities of the subliminal self. We have watched 
a hyperaesthetic intensification of ordinary faculty, — leading up to telaes- 
thesia, and to telepathy, from the living and from the departed. Along 
with these powers, which, on the hypothesis of the soul's independent 
existence, are at least within our range of analogical conception, we have 
noted also a precognitive capacity of a type which no fact as yet known 
to science will help us to explain. 

Proceeding to the study of motor automatisms, we have found a third 
group of cases which independently confirm in each of these lines in turn 
the results of our analysis of sensory automatisms both in sleep and in 
waking. Evidence thus convergent will already need no ordinary bold- 
ness of negative assumption if it is to be set aside. But motor automatisms 
have taught us much more than this. At once more energetic and more 
persistent than the sensory, they oblige us to face certain problems which 
the lightness and fugitiveness of sensory impressions allowed us in some 
measure to evade. Thus when we discussed the mechanism (so to call 
it) of visual and auditor)' phantasms, two competing conceptions pre- 


sented themselves for our choice, — the conception of telepathic impact, 
and the conception of psychical invasion. Either (we said) there was 
an influence exerted by the agent on the percipient's mind, which so stimu- 
lated the sensory tracts of his brain that he externalised that impression 
as a quasi-percept, or else the agent in some way modified an actual por- 
tion of space where (say) an apparition was discerned, perhaps by several 
percipients at once. 

Phrased in this manner, the telepathic impact seemed the less startling, 
the less extreme hypothesis of the two, — mainly, perhaps, because the 
picture which it called up was left so vague and obscure. But now in- 
stead of a fleeting hallucination we have to deal with a strong and lasting 
impulse — such, for instance, as the girl's impulse to write, in Dr. Lie- 
beault's case (Appendix VIII. C) : — an impulse which seems to come 
from the depths of the being, and which (like a post-hypnotic suggestion) 
may override even strong disinclination, and keep the automatist un- 
comfortable until it has worked itself out. We may still call this a tele- 
pathic impact, if we will, but we shall find it hard to distinguish that term 
from a psychical invasion. This strong, yet apparently alien, motor 
innervation corresponds in fact as closely as possible to our idea of an 
invasion — an invasion no longer of the room only in which the percipient 
is sitting, but of his own body and his own powers. It is an invasion 
which, if sufficiently prolonged, would become a possession; and it both 
unites and intensifies those two earlier conjectures; — of telepathic impact 
on the percipient's mind, and of "phantasmogenetic presence" in the per- 
cipient's surroundings. What seemed at first a mere impact is tending to 
become a persistent control; what seemed an incursion merely into the per- 
cipient's environment has become an incursion into his organism itself. 

As has been usual in this inquiry, this slight forward step from vague- 
ness to comparative clearness of conception introduces us at once to a 
whole series of novel problems. Yet, as we have also learnt to expect, 
some of our earlier phenomena may have to be called in with advantage 
to illustrate phenomena more advanced. 

In cases of split personality, to begin with, we have seen just the same 
phenomena occurring where certainly no personality was concerned 
save the percipient's own. We have seen a section of the subliminal 
self partially or temporarily dominating the organism; perhaps control- 
ling permanently one arm alone; 1 or perhaps controlling intermittently 

1 See the "Report of Dr. Ira Barrows on the case of Miss Anna Winsor." An 
account of Professor James' inquiry into the case will be found in Proceedings 
of the American S.P.R., vol. i. p. 552 [237 A]. 


the whole nervous system; — and all this with varying degrees of displace- 
ment of the primary personality. 

Similarly with post-hypnotic suggestion. We have seen the sublim- 
inal self ordered to write (say) "It has left off raining" — and thereupon 
writing the words without the conscious will of the automatist — and 
again with varying degrees of displacement of the waking self. The step 
hence to such a case as Mrs. Newnham's is thus not a very long one. Mrs. 
Newnham's subliminal self, exercising supernormal faculty, and by some 
effort of its own, acquires certain facts from Mr. Newnham's mind, and 
uses her hand to write them down automatically. The great problem 
here introduced is how the subliminal self acquires the facts, rather 
than how it succeeds in writing them down when it has once acquired 

But as we go further we can no longer limit the problem in this way, 
— to the activities of the automatist's subliminal self. We cannot always 
assume that some portion of the automatist's personality gets at the super- 
normal knowledge by some effort of its own. Our evidence, as we know, 
has pointed decisively to telepathic impacts or influences from without. 
What, then, is the mechanism here? Are we still to suppose that the 
automatist's subliminal self executes the movements — obeying some- 
how the bidding of the impulse from without ? or does the external agent, 
who sends the telepathic message, himself execute the movements also, 
directly using the automatist's arm? And if telekinetic movements 
accompany the message (a subject thus far deferred, but of prime im- 
portance), are we to suppose that these also are effected by the percipient's 
subliminal self, under the guidance of some external spirit, incarnate 
or discarnate? or are they effected directly by that external spirit? 

We cannot really say which of these two is the easier hypothesis. 

From one point of view it may seem simpler to keep as long as we 
can to that acknowledged vera causa, the automatist's subliminal self; 
and to collect such observations as may indicate any power on its part 
of producing physical effects outside the organism. Such scattered ob- 
servations occur at every stage, and even Mrs. Newnham (I may briefly 
observe in passing) thought that her pencil, when writing down the mes- 
sages telepathically derived from her husband, was moved by something 
other than the ordinary muscular action of the fingers which held it. On 
the other hand, there seems something very forced in attributing to an 
external spirit's agency impulses and impressions which seem intimately 
the automatist's own, and at the same time refusing to ascribe to that 
external agency phenomena which take place outside the automatist's 


organism, and which present themselves to him as objective facts, as 
much outside his own being as the fall of the apple to the ground. 

Reflecting on such points — and once admitting this kind of inter- 
action between the automatist's own spirit and an external spirit, in- 
carnate or discarnate — we find the possible combinations presenting 
themselves in perplexing variety; — a variety both of agencies on the 
part of the invading spirit, and of effects on the part of the invaded spirit 
and organism. 

What is that which invades? and what is that which is displaced or 
superseded by this invasion? In what ways may two spirits co-operate 
in the possession and control of the same organism? 

These last words — control and possession — remind us of the great 
mass of vague tradition and belief to the effect that spirits of the departed 
may exercise such possession or control over the living. To those ancient 
and vague beliefs it will be our task in the next chapter to give a form 
as exact and stable as we can. And observe with how entirely novel 
a preparation of mind we now enter on that task. The examination 
of "possession" is no longer to us, as to the ordinary civilised inquirer, 
a merely antiquarian or anthropological research into forms of super- 
stition lying wholly apart from any valid or systematic thought. On 
the contrary, it is an inquiry directly growing out of previous evidence; 
directly needed for the full comprehension of known facts as well as for 
the discovery of facts unknown. We need, (so to say), to analyse the 
spectrum of helium, as detected in the sun, in order to check and correct 
our spectrum of helium as detected in the Bath waters. We are obliged 
to seek for certain definite phenomena in the spiritual world in order 
to explain certain definite phenomena of the world of matter. 


Vicit iter durum pietas. 

— Virgil. 

Possession, to define it for the moment in the narrowest way, is a more 
developed form of Motor Automatism. The difference broadly is, that 
in Possession the automatist's own personality does for the time alto- 
gether disappear, while there is a more or less complete substitution of 
personality; writing or speech being given by a spirit through the entranced 
organism. The change which has come over this branch of evidence 
since the present work was first projected, in 1888, is most significant. 
There existed indeed, at that date, a good deal of evidence which pointed 
in this direction, 1 but for various reasons most of that evidence was still 
possibly explicable in other ways. Even the phenomena of Mr. W. S. 
Moses left it possible to argue that the main " controls " under which he 
wrote or spoke when entranced were self-suggestions of his own mind, 
or phases of his own deeper personality. I had not then had the oppor- 
tunity, which the kindness of his executors after his death afforded to 
me, of studying the whole series of his original note-books, and forming 
at first-hand my present conviction that spiritual agency was an actual 
and important element in that long sequence of communications. On 
the whole, I did not then anticipate that the theory of possession could 
be presented as more than a plausible speculation, or as a supplement 
to other lines of proof of man's survival of death. 

The position of things, as the reader of the S.P.R. Proceedings knows, 
has since that time undergone a complete change. The trance-phenomena 
of Mrs. Piper — so long and so carefully watched by Dr. Hodgson 
and others — formed, I think, by far the most remarkable mass of psy- 
chical evidence till then adduced in any quarter. And more recently 
other series of trance-phenomena with other "mediums" — though 

1 The cases of Swedenborg, Cahagnet's subject, D. D. Home, and Stainton Moses 
will be discussed in the course of this chapter. 



still incomplete — have added materially to the evidence obtained through 
Mrs. Piper. The result broadly is that these phenomena of possession 
are now the most amply attested, as well as intrinsically the most 
advanced, in our whole repertory. 

Nor, again, is the mere increment of direct evidence, important though 
that is, the sole factor in the changed situation. Not only has direct 
evidence grown, but indirect evidence, so to say, has moved to meet it. 
The notion of personality — of the control of organism by spirit — - 
has gradually been so modified that Possession, which passed till the 
other day as a mere survival of savage thought, is now seen to be the 
consummation, the furthest development of many lines of experiment, 
observation, reflection, which the preceding chapters have opened to our 

Let us then at once consider what the notion of possession does actually 
claim. It will be better to face that claim in its full extent at once, as 
it will be seen that the evidence, while rising through various stages, does 
in the end insist on all that the ancient term implies. The leading modern 
cases, of which Stainton Moses and Mrs. Piper may be taken as types, 
are closely analogous, presenting many undesigned coincidences, some 
of which come out only on close examination. 

The claim, then, is that the automatist, in the first place, falls into 
a trance, during which his spirit partially "quits his body:" enters at 
any rate into a state in which the spiritual world is more or less open 
to its perception; and in which also — and this is the novelty — it so 
far ceases to occupy the organism as to leave room for an invading spirit 
to use it in somewhat the same fashion as its owner is accustomed to use it. 

The brain being thus left temporarily and partially uncontrolled, 
a disembodied spirit sometimes, but not always, succeeds in occupying 
it; and occupies it with varying degrees of control. In some cases (Mrs. 
Piper) two or more spirits may simultaneously control different portions 
of the same organism. 

The controlling spirit proves his identity mainly by reproducing, 
in speech or writing, facts which belong to his memory and not to the 
automatisms memory. He may also give evidence of supernormal per- 
ception of other kinds. 

His manifestations may differ very considerably from the automatist's 
normal personality. Yet in one sense it is a process of selection rather 
than of addition; the spirit selects what parts of the brain-machinery 
he will use, but he cannot get out of that machinery more than it is con- 
structed to perform. The spirit can indeed produce facts and names 


unknown to the automatist; but they must be, as a rule, such facts and 
names as the automatist could easily have repeated, had they been known 
to him: — not, for instance, mathematical formulae or Chinese sentences, 
if the automatist is ignorant of mathematics or of Chinese. 

After a time the control gives way, and the automatist's spirit returns. 
The automatist, awaking, may or may not remember his experiences 
in the spiritual world during the trance. In some cases (Swedenborg) 
there is this memory of the spiritual world, but no possession of the 
organism by an external spirit. In others (Cahagnet's subject) there is 
utterance during the trance as to what is being discerned by the auto- 
matist, yet no memory thereof on waking. In others (Mrs. Piper) there is 
neither utterance as a rule, or at least no prolonged utterance, by the 
automatist's own spirit, nor subsequent memory; but there is writing 
or utterance during the trance by controlling spirits. 

Now this seems a strange doctrine to have reached after so much 
disputation. For it simply brings us back to the creeds of the Stone 
Age. We have come round again to the primitive practices of the shaman 
and the medicine-man ; — to a doctrine of spiritual intercourse which 
was once oecumenical, but has now taken refuge in African swamps and 
Siberian tundras and the snow-clad wastes of the Red Indian and the 
Esquimaux. If, as is sometimes advised, we judge of the worth of ideas 
by tracing their origins, no conception could start from a lower level of 
humanity. It might be put out of court at once as unworthy of 
civilised men. 

Fortunately, however, our previous discussions have supplied us with 
a somewhat more searching criterion. Instead of asking in what age 
a doctrine originated — with the implied assumption that the more recent 
it is, the better — we can now ask how far it is in accord or in discord 
with a great mass of actual recent evidence which comes into contact, 
in one way or another, with nearly every belief as to an unseen world 
which has been held at least by western men. Submitted to this test, 
the theory of possession gives a remarkable result. It cannot be said 
to be inconsistent with any of our proved facts. We know absolutely 
nothing which negatives its possibility. 

Nay, more than this. The theory of possession actually supplies 
us with a powerful method of co-ordinating and explaining many earlier 
groups of phenomena, if only we will consent to explain them in a way 
which at first sight seemed extreme in its assumptions — seemed unduly 
prodigal of the marvellous. Yet as to that difficulty we have learnt by 
this time that no explanation of psychical phenomena is really simple, 


and that our best clue is to get hold of some group which seems to admit 
of one interpretation only, and then to use that group as a point de repere 
from which to attack more complex problems. 

Now I think that the Moses-Piper group of trance-phenomena can- 
not be intelligently explained on any theory except that of possession. 
And I therefore think it important to consider in what way earlier 
phenomena have led up to possession, and in what way the facts of 
possession, in their turn, affect our view of these earlier phenomena. 

If we analyse our observations of possession, we find two main 
factors — the central operation, which is the control by a spirit of the 
sensitive's organism; and the indispensable prerequisite, which is the partial 
and temporary desertion of that organism by the percipient's own spirit. 

Let us consider first how far this withdrawal of the living man's spirit 
from his organism has been rendered conceivable by evidence already 

First of all, the splits, and substitutions of phases of personality with 
which our second chapter made us familiar have great significance for 
possession also. 

We have there seen some secondary personality, beginning with slight 
and isolated sensory and motor manifestations, yet going on gradually 
to complete predominance, — complete control of all supraliminal mani- 

The mere collection and description of such phenomena has up till 
now savoured of a certain boldness. The idea of tracing the possible 
mechanism involved in these transitions has scarcely arisen. 

Yet it is manifest that there must be a complex set of laws con- 
cerned with such alternating use of brain-centres; — developments, 
one may suppose, of those unknown physical laws underlying ordi- 
nary memory, of which no one has formed as yet even a first rough 

An ordinary case of ecmnesia may present problems as insoluble in 
their way as those offered by spirit-possession itself. There may be in 
ecmnesia periods of life absolutely and permanently extruded from mem- 
ory; and there may be also periods which are only temporarily thus ex- 
truded. Thus on Wednesday and Thursday I may be unaware of what 
I learnt and did on Monday and Tuesday; and then on Friday I may 
recover Monday's and Tuesday's knowledge, as well as retaining 
Wednesday's and Thursday's, so that my brain-cells have taken on, so to 
say, two separate lines of education since Sunday — that which began 
on Monday, and that which began on Wednesday. These intercurrent 


educations may have been naturally discordant, and may be fused in all 
kinds of ways in the ultimate synthesis. 

These processes are completely obscure; and all that can be said is 
that their mechanism probably belongs to the same unknown series of 
operations which ultimately lead to that completest break in the history 
of the brain-cells which consists in their intercalary occupation by an 
external spirit. 

Passing on to genius, which I discussed in my third chapter, it is notice- 
able that there also there is a certain degree of temporary substitution 
of one control for another over important brain-centres. We must here 
regard the subliminal self as an entity partially distinct from the supra- 
liminal, and its occupation of these brain-centres habitually devoted 
to supraliminal work is a kind of possession, which illustrates in yet an- 
other way the rapid metastasis of psychical product (so to term it) of 
which these highest centres are capable. The highest genius would 
thus be the completest self-possession, — the occupation and dominance 
of the whole organism by those profoundest elements of the self which 
act from the fullest knowledge, and in the wisest way. 

The next main subject which fell under our description was sleep. 
And this state— the normal state which most resembles trance —has long 
ago suggested the question which first hints at the possibility of ecstasy, 
namely, What becomes of the soul during sleep? I think that our evi- 
dence has shown that sometimes during apparent ordinary sleep the spirit 
may travel away from the body, and may bring back a memory, more or 
less confused, of what it has seen in this clairvoyant excursion. This may 
indeed happen for brief flashes during waking moments also. But ordi- 
nary sleep seems to help the process; and deeper states of sleep — spontane- 
ous or induced — seem still further to facilitate it. In the coma preceding 
death, or during that "suspended animation" which is sometimes taken 
for death, this travelling faculty has seemed to reach its highest point. 

I have spoken of deeper states of sleep, " spontaneous or induced," 
and here the reader will naturally recall much that has been said of or- 
dinary somnambulism, much that has been said of hypnotic trance. Hyp- 
notic trance has created for us, with perfect facility, situations externally 
indistinguishable from what I shall presently claim as true possession. 
A quasi-personality, arbitrarily created, may occupy the organism, re- 
sponding to speech or sign in some characteristic fashion, although without 
producing any fresh verifiable facts as evidence to the alleged identity. 
Nay, sometimes, as in a few of the Pesaro experiments (see Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 563-565), there may be indications that something 


of a new personality is there. And on the other hand, the sensitive's 
own spirit often claims to have been absent elsewhere, — much in the 
fashion in which it sometimes imagines itself to have been absent during 
ordinary sleep, but with greater persistence and lucidity. 

Our inquiry into the nature of what is thus alleged to be seen in sleep 
and cognate states has proved instructive. Sometimes known earthly 
scenes appear to be revisited — with only such alteration as may have 
taken place since the sleeper last visited them in waking hours. But 
sometimes also there is an admixture of an apparently symbolical element. 
The earthly scene includes some element of human action, which is pre- 
sented in a selected or abbreviated fashion, as though some mind had 
been concerned to bring out a special significance from the complex story. 
Sometimes this element becomes quite dominant; phantasmal figures 
are seen; or there may be a prolonged symbolical representation of an 
entry into the spiritual world. 

Cases like these do of course apparently support that primitive doc- 
trine of the spirit's actual wandering in space. On the other hand, this 
notion has become unwelcome to modern thought, which is less unwilling 
to believe in some telepathic intercourse between mind and mind in which 
space is not involved. For my own part, I have already explained that 
I think that the evidence to an at least apparent movement of some kind 
in space must outweigh any mere speculative presumption against it. 
And I hold that these new experiences of possession fall on this contro- 
versy with decisive force. It is so strongly claimed, in every instance 
of possession, that the sensitive's own spirit must in some sense vacate 
the organism, in order to allow another spirit to enter, — and the evi- 
dence for the reality of possession is at the same time so strong, — that 
I think that we must argue back from this spatial change as a relatively 
certain fact, and must place a corresponding interpretation on earlier 
phenomena. Such an interpretation, if once admitted, does certainly 
meet the phenomena in the way most accordant with the subjective im- 
pressions of the various percipients. 

As we have already repeatedly found, it is the bold evolutionary 
hypothesis which best fixes and colligates the scattered facts. We encounter 
in these studies phenomena of degeneration and phenomena of evolution. 
The degenerative phenomena are explicable singly and in detail as de- 
clensions in divergent directions from an existing level. The evolutive 
phenomena point, on the other hand, to new generalisations ; — to powers 
previously unrecognised towards which our evidence converges along 
constantly multiplying lines. 


This matter of psychical excursion from the organism ultimately 
involves the extremest claim to novel faculty which has ever been ad- 
vanced for men. For it involves, as we shall see, the claim to ecstasy: 
— to a wandering vision which is not confined to this earth or this material 
world alone, but introduces the seer into the spiritual world and among 
communities higher than any which this planet knows. The discussion 
of this transportation, however, will be better deferred until after the 
evidence for possession has been laid before the reader at some length. 

Continuing, then, for the present our analysis of the idea of posses- 
sion, we come now to its specific feature, — the occupation by a spiritual 
agency of the entranced and partially vacated organism. Here it is that 
our previous studies will do most to clear our conceptions. Instead of 
at once leaping to the question of what spirits in their essence are, — 
of what they can do and cannot do, — of the antecedent possibility of 
their re-entry into matter, and the like, — we must begin by simply 
carrying the idea of telepathy to its furthest point. We must imagine 
telepathy becoming as central and as intense as possible; — and 
we shall find that of two diverging types of telepathic intercourse 
which will thus present themselves, the one will gradually correspond 
to possession, and the other to ecstasy. 

But here let us pause, and consider what is the truest conception which 
we are by this time able to form of telepathy. The word has been a con- 
venient one; the central notion — of communication beyond this range 
of sense — can at any rate thus be expressed in simple terms. But never- 
theless there has been nothing to assure us that our real comprehension 
of telepathic processes has got much deeper than that verbal definition. 
Our conception of telepathy, indeed, to say nothing of telaesthesia, has 
needed to be broadened with each fresh stage of our evidence. That 
evidence at first revealed to us certain transmissions of thoughts and 
images which suggested the passage of actual etherial vibrations from 
brain to brain. Nor indeed can any one say at any point of our evidence 
that etherial vibrations are demonstrably not concerned in the phenomena. 
We cannot tell how far from the material world (to use a crude phrase) 
some etherial agency may possibly extend. But telepathic phenomena 
are in fact soon seen to overpass any development which imaginative 
analogy can give to the conception of etherial radiation from one 
material point to another. 

For from the mere transmission of isolated ideas or pictures there 
is, as my readers know, a continuous progression to impressions and 
apparitions far more persistent and complex. We encounter an influence 


which suggests no mere impact of etherial waves, but an intelligent and 
responsive presence, resembling nothing so much as the ordinary human 
intercourse of persons in bodily nearness. Such visions or auditions, 
inward or externalised, are indeed sometimes felt to involve an even closer 
contact of spirits than the common intercourse of earth allows. One 
could hardly assign etherial undulations as their cause without assigning 
that same mechanism to all our emotions felt towards each other, or even 
to our control over our own organisms. 

Nay, more. There is — as I have striven to show — a further pro- 
gression from these telepathic intercommunications between living men 
to intercommunications between living men and discarnate spirits. And 
this new thesis, — in every way of vital importance, — while practically 
solving one problem on which I have already dwelt, opens also a pos- 
sibility of the determination of another problem, nowise accessible until 
now. In the first place, we may now rest assured that telepathic com- 
munication is not necessarily propagated by vibrations proceeding from 
an ordinary material brain. For the discarnate spirit at any rate has 
no such brain from which to start them. 

So much, in the first place, for the agent's end of the communication. 

And in the second place, we now discern a possibility of getting at 
the percipient's end; of determining whether the telepathic impact is 
received by the brain or by the spirit of the living man, or by both 
inseparably, or sometimes by one and sometimes by the other. 

On this problem, I say, the phenomena of automatic script, of 
trance-utterance, of spirit-possession, throw more of light than we 
could have ventured to hope. 

Stated broadly, our trance-phenomena show us to begin with that 
several currents of communication can pass at once from discarnate spirits 
to a living man; — and can pass in very varying ways. For clearness' 
sake I will put aside for the present all cases where the telepathic impact 
takes an externalised or sensory form, and will speak only of intellectual 
impressions and motor automatisms. 

Now these may pass through all grades of apparent centrality. If 
a man, awake and in other respects fully self-controlled, feels his hand 
impelled to scrawl words on a piece of paper, without consciousness of 
motor effort oj his own, the impulse does not seem to him a central one, 
although some part of his brain is presumably involved. On the other 
hand, a much less conspicuous invasion of his personality may feel much 
more central; — as, for instance, a premonition of evil, — an inward 
heaviness which he can scarcely define. And so the motor automatism 


goes on until it reaches the point of possession; — that is to say, until 
the man's own consciousness is absolutely in abeyance, and every part 
of his body is utilised by the invading spirit or spirits. What happens 
in such conditions to the man's ruling principle — to his own spirit — 
we must consider presently. But so far as his organism is concerned, 
the invasion seems complete: and it indicates a power which is indeed 
telepathic in a true sense; — yet not quite in the sense which we originally 
attached to the word. We first thought of telepathy as of a communica- 
tion between two minds, whereas what we have here looks more like a 
communication between a mind and a body, — an external mind, in 
place of the mind which is accustomed to rule that particular body. 

There is in such a case no apparent communication between the dis- 
carnate mind and the mind of the automatist. Rather there is a kind 
of contact between the discarnate mind and the brain of the automatist, 
in so far that the discarnate mind, pursuing its own ends, is helped up 
to a certain point by the accumulated capacities of the automatist's brain; 

— and similarly is hindered by its incapacities. 

Yet here the most characteristic element of telepathy, I repeat, seems 
to have dropped out altogether. There is no perceptible communion 
between the mind of the entranced person and any other mind whatever. 
He is possessed, but is kept in unconsciousness, and never regains memory 
of what his lips have uttered during his trance. 

But let us see whether we have thus grasped all the trance-phenomena ; 

— whether something else may not be going on, which is more truly, 
more centrally telepathic. 

To go back to the earliest stage of telepathic experience, we can see 
well enough that the experimental process might quite possibly involve 
two different factors. The percipient's mind must somehow receive the 
telepathic impression; — and to this reception we can assign no definite 
physical correlative; — and also the percipient's motor or sensory centres 
must receive an excitation; — which excitation may be communicated, 
for aught we know, either by his own mind in the ordinary way, or by 
the agent's mind in some direct way, — which I may call telergic, thus 
giving a more precise sense to a word which I long ago suggested as a 
kind of correlative to telepathic. That is to say, there may even in these 
apparently simple cases be first a transmission from agent to percipient 
in the spiritual world, and then an action on the percipient's physical 
brain, of the same type as spirit-possession. This action on the physical 
brain may be due either to the percipient's own spirit, or subliminal self, 
or else directly to the agent's spirit. For I must repeat that the phenomena 


of possession seem to indicate that the extraneous spirit acts on a man's 
organism in very much the same way as the man's own spirit habitually 
acts on it. One must thus practically regard the body as an instrument 
upon which a spirit plays ; — an ancient metaphor which now seems 
actually our nearest approximation to truth. 

Proceeding to the case of telepathic or veridical apparitions, we see 
the same hints of a double nature in the process; — traces of two ele- 
ments mingling in various degrees. At the spiritual end there may be 
what we have called " clairvoyant visions," — pictures manifestly sym- 
bolical, and not located by the observer in ordinary three-dimensional 
space. These seem analogous to the views of the spiritual world which 
the sensitive enjoys during entrancement. Then comes that larger class 
of veridical apparitions where the figure seems to be externalised from 
the percipient's mind, some stimulus having actually been applied, — 
whether by agent's or percipient's spirit, — to the appropriate brain- 
centre. These cases of "sensory automatism" resemble those experi- 
mental transferences of pictures of cards, etc. And beyond these again, 
on the physical or rather the ultra-physical side, come those collective 
apparitions which in my view involve some unknown kind of modifica- 
tion of a certain portion of space not occupied by any organism, — as 
opposed to a modification of centres in one special brain. Here comes 
in, as I hold, the gradual transition from subjective to objective, as the 
portion of space in question is modified in a manner to affect a larger 
and larger number of percipient minds. 

Now when we proceed from these apparitions of the living to appari- 
tions of the departed, we find very much the same types persisting still. 
We find symbolical visions of departed persons, and of scenes among 
which they seem to dwell. We find externalised apparitions or phan- 
tasms of departed persons, — indicating that some point in the percipient's 
brain has been stimulated by his own or by some other spirit. And finally, 
as has already been said, we find that in certain cases of possession these 
two kinds of influence are simultaneously carried to an extreme. The 
percipient automatist of earlier stages becomes no longer a percipient 
but an automatist pure and simple, — so far as his body is concerned, 
— for his whole brain — not one point alone — seems now to be stimulated 
and controlled by an extraneous spirit, and he is not himself aware of 
what his body writes or utters. And meantime his spirit, partially set 
free from the body, may be purely percipient; — may be enjoying that 
other spiritual form of communication more completely than in any type 
of vision which our description had hitherto reached. 


This point attained, another analogy, already mentioned, will be 
at once recalled. There is another class of phenomena, besides telepathy, 
of which this definition of possession at once reminds us. We have 
dealt much with secondary personalities, — with severances and alter- 
nations affecting a man's own spirit, in varying relation with his organism. 
Felida X.'s developed secondary personality, for instance (Appendix 
II. C), might be defined as another fragment — or another synthesis 
— of Felida 's spirit acting upon her organism in much the same way as 
the original fragment — or the primary synthesis — of her spirit was 
wont to act upon it. 

Plainly, this analogy is close enough to be likely to lead to practical 
confusion. On what grounds can we base our distinctions? What 
justifies us in saying that Felida X.'s organism was controlled only by 
another modification of her own personality, but that Mrs. Piper's is con- 
trolled by George Pelham (see page 330 et seq.) ? May there not be any 
amount of self-suggestion, colouring with the fictitious hue of all kinds 
of identities what is in reality no more than an allotropic form of the en- 
tranced person himself? Is even the possession by the new personality 
of some fragments of fresh knowledge any proof of spirit-control? May 
not that knowledge be gained clairvoyantly or telepathically, with no 
intervention of any spirit other than of living men? 

Yes, indeed, we must reply, there is here a danger of confusion, there 
is a lack of any well-defined dividing line. While we must decide on 
general rules, we must also keep our minds open to possible exceptions. 

On the negative side, indeed, general rules will carry us a good way. 
We must not allow ourselves to ascribe to spirit-control cases where no 
new knowledge is shown in the trance state. And this rule has at once 
an important consequence, — a consequence which profoundly modi- 
fies the antique idea of possession. I know of no evidence, — reaching 
in any way our habitual standard, — either for angelic, for diabolical, 
or for hostile possession. 

And here comes the question : What attitude are we to assume to savage 
cases of possession? Are we to accept as genuine the possession of the 
Esquimaux, the Chinaman, — nay, of the Hebrew of old days ? 

Chinese possession is a good example, as described in Dr. Nevius' 
book (on Demon Possession and Allied Themes, an account of which by 
Professor Newbold is given in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. p. 602 [912 A]). 
I agree with Professor Newbold in holding that no proof has been shown 
that there is more in the Chinese cases than that hysterical duplication 
of personality with which we are so familiar in France and elsewhere. 


A devil is not a creature whose existence is independently known to 
science; and from the accounts the behaviour of the invading devils seems 
due to mere self-suggestion. With uncivilised races, even more than 
among our own friends, we are bound to insist on the rule that there must 
be some supernormal knowledge shown before we may assume an 
external influence. It may of course be replied that the character shown 
by the "devils" was fiendish and actually hostile to the possessed person. 
Can we suppose that the tormentor was actually a fraction of the 
tormented ? 

I reply that such a supposition, so far from being absurd, is supported 
by well-known phenomena both in insanity and in mere hysteria. 

Especially in the Middle Ages, — amid powerful self-suggestions 
of evil and terror, — did these quasi-possessions reach an intensity and 
violence which the calm and sceptical atmosphere of the modern hospital 
checks and discredits. The devils with terrifying names which possessed 
Sceur Angelique of Loudun * would at the Salpetriere under Charcot 
in our days have figured merely as stages of "clounisme" and "attitudes 

And even now these splits of personality seem occasionally to destroy 
all sympathy between the normal individual and a divergent fraction. 
No great sympathy was felt by Leonie II. for Leonie I. 2 And Dr. Morton 
Prince's case 3 shows us the deepest and ablest of the personalities of his 
"Miss Beauchamp" positively spiteful in its relation to her main identity. 

Bizarre though a house thus divided against itself may seem, the moral 
dissidence is merely an exaggeration of the moral discontinuity observable 
in the typical case of Mrs. Newnham. 4 There the secondary intelligence 
was merely tricky, not malevolent. But its trickiness was wholly alien 
from Mrs. Newnham's character, — was something, indeed, which she 
would have energetically repudiated. 

It seems, therefore, — and the analogy of dreams points in this 
direction also, — that our moral nature is as easily split up as our 
intellectual nature, and that we cannot be any more certain that the 
minor current of personality which is diverted into some new channel 
will retain moral than that it will retain intellectual coherence. 

1 Bibliotheque Diabolique (Collection Bourneville). Paris: Aux Bureaux du Pro- 
gres Medical, 1886 [832 B]. 

3 See Professor Janet's paper in the Revue Philosophique, March, 1888. The 
case is also constantly referred to in his UAutomatisme Psychologique. 

3 See page 49. 

4 See page 288. 


To return once more to the Chinese devil-possessions. Dr. Nevius 
asserts, though without adducing definite proof, that the possessing devils 
sometimes showed supernormal knowledge. This is a better argument 
for their separate existence than their fiendish temper is; but it is not in 
itself enough. The knowledge does not seem to have been specially appro- 
priate to the supposed informing spirit. It seems as though it may have 
depended upon heightened memory, with possibly some slight telepathic 
or telaesthetic perception. Heightened memory is thoroughly character- 
istic of some hysterical phases; and even the possible traces of telepathy 
(although far the most important feature of the phenomena, if they really 
occurred) are, as we have seen, not unknown in trance states (like Leonie's) 
where there is no indication of an invading spirit. 

Temporary control of the organism by a widely divergent fragment 
of the personality, self-suggested in some dream-like manner into hos- 
tility to the main mass of the personality, and perhaps better able than 
that normal personality to reach and manipulate certain stored impres- 
sions, — or even certain supernormal influences, — such will be the formula 
to which we shall reduce the invading Chinese devil, as described by 
Dr. Nevius, — and probably the great majority of supposed devil- 
possessions of similar type. 

The great majority, no doubt, but perhaps not all. It would indeed 
be matter for surprise if such trance-phenomena as those of Mrs. Piper 
and other modern cases had appeared in the world without previous 
parallel. Much more probable is it that similar phenomena have 
occurred sporadically from the earliest times, — although men have 
not had enough of training to analyse them. 

And, in fact, among the endless descriptions of trance-phenomena 
with which travellers furnish us, there are many which include points 
so concordant with our recent observations that we cannot but attach 
some weight to coincidences so wholly undesigned. 1 But although this 
may be admitted, I still maintain that the only invaders of the organism 

1 One important point of similarity is the concurrence in some savage ceremonies 
of utterance through an invading spirit and travelling clairvoyance exercised mean- 
time by the man whose organism is thus invaded. The uncouth spirit shouts and 
bellows, presumably with the lungs of the medicine-man, hidden from view in pro- 
found slumber. Then the medicine-man awakes, — and tells the listening tribe 
the news which his sleep-wanderings, among gods or men, have won. 

If this indeed be thus, it fits in strangely with the experience of our modern seers, 
— with the spiritual interchange which takes place when a discarnate intelligence 
occupies the organism and meantime the incarnate intelligence, temporarily freed, 
awakes to wider percipience, -— in this or in another world. 


who have as yet made good their title have been human, and have been 
friendly; and with this clearance should, I think, vanish the somewhat 
grim associations which have gathered around the word possession. 

Assuming, then, as I think we at present may assume, that we have to 
deal only with spirits who have been men like ourselves, and who are 
still animated by much the same motives as those which influence us, 
we may briefly consider, on similar analogical grounds, what range of 
spirits are likely to be able to affect us, and what difficulties they are likely 
to find in doing so. Of course, actual experience alone can decide this; 
but nevertheless our expectations may be usefully modified if we reflect 
beforehand how far such changes of personality as we already know can 
suggest to us the limits of these profounder substitutions. 

What, to begin with, do we find to be the case as to addition of faculty 
in alternating states? How far do such changes bring with them un- 
familiar powers? 

Reference to the recorded cases will show us that existing faculty 
may be greatly quickened and exalted. There may be an increase both 
in actual perception and in power of remembering or reproducing what 
has once been perceived. There may be increased control over muscular 
action, — as shown, for instance, in improved billiard-playing, — in 
the secondary state. But there is little evidence of the acquisition — 
telepathy apart — of any actual mass of fresh knowledge, — such as a 
new language, or a stage of mathematical knowledge unreached before. 
We shall not therefore be justified by analogy in expecting that an external 
spirit controlling an organism will be able easily to modify it in such a 
way as to produce speech in a language previously unknown. The brain 
is used as something between a typewriter and a calculating machine. 
German words, for instance, are not mere combinations of letters, but 
specific formulae; they can only seldom and with great difficulty be got 
out of a machine which has not been previously fashioned for their 

Consider, again, the analogies as to memory. In the case of alter- 
nations of personality, memory fails and changes in what seems a quite 
capricious way. The gaps which then occur recall (as I have said) the 
ecmnesice or blank unrecollected spaces which follow upon accidents 
to the head, or upon crises of fever, when all memories that belong to a 
particular person or to a particular period of life are clean wiped out, 
other memories remaining intact. Compare, again, the memory of waking 
life which we retain in dream. This too is absolutely capricious ; — I 
may forget my own name in a dream, and yet remember perfectly the 


kind of chairs in my dining-room. Or I may remember the chairs, but 
locate them in some one else's house. No one can predict the kind of 
confusion which may occur. 

We have also the parallel of somnambulic utterance. In talking with 
a somnambulist, be the somnambulism natural or induced, we find it 
hard to get into continuous colloquy on our own subjects. To begin 
with, he probably will not speak continuously for long together. He 
drops back into a state in which he cannot express himself at all. And 
when he does talk, he is apt to talk only on his own subjects ; — to follow 
out his own train of ideas, — interrupted rather than influenced by what 
we say to him. The difference of state between waking and sleep is in 
many ways hard to bridge over. 

We have thus three parallelisms which may guide and limit our ex- 
pectations. From the parallelism of possession with split personalities 
we may infer that a possessing spirit is not likely to be able to inspire 
into the recipient brain ideas or words of very unfamiliar type. From 
the parallelism of possession with dream we may infer that the memory 
of the possessing spirit may be subject to strange omissions and confusions. 
From the parallelism with somnambulism we may infer that colloquy 
between a human observer and the possessing spirit is not likely to be 
full or free, but rather to be hampered by difference of state, and abbre- 
viated by the difficulty of maintaining psychical contact for long together. 

These remarks will, I hope, prepare the reader to consider the 
problems of possession with the same open-mindedness which has been 
needed for the study of previous problems attacked in the present 

But before we can proceed to the actual evidence there is another 
aspect of possession which must be explained. A group of phenomena 
are involved which have in various ways done much to confuse and even 
to retard our main inquiry, but which, when properly placed and under- 
stood, are seen to form an inevitable part of any scheme which strives 
to discover the influence of unseen agencies in the world we know. 

In our discussion of all telepathic and other supernormal influence 
I have thus far regarded it mainly from the psychological and not from 
the physical side. I have spoken as though the field of supernormal 
action has been always the metetherial world. Yet true as this dictum 
may be in its deepest sense, it cannot represent the whole truth "for beings 
such as we are, in a world like the present." For us every psychological 
fact has (so far as we know) a physical side; and metetherial events, to 
be perceptible to us, must somehow affect the world of matter. 


In sensory and motor automatisms, then, we see effects, supernormally 
initiated, upon the world of matter. 

Imprimis y of course, and in ordinary life our own spirits (their exist- 
ence once granted) affect our own bodies and are our standing examples 
of spirit affecting matter. Next, if a man receives a telepathic impact 
from another incarnate spirit which causes him to see a phantasmal figure, 
that man's brain has, we may suppose, been directly affected by his own 
spirit rather than by the spirit of the distant friend. But it may not always 
be true even in the case of sensory automatisms that the distant spirit 
has made a suggestion merely to the percipient's spirit which the per- 
cipient's own spirit carries out; and in motor automatisms, as they de- 
velop into possession, there are indications, as I have already pointed 
out, that the influence of the agent's spirit is telergic rather than telepathic, 
and that we have extraneous spirits influencing the human brain or 
organism. That is to say, they are producing movements in matter; 
— even though that matter be organised matter and those movements 

So soon as this fact is grasped, — and it has not always been grasped 
by those who have striven to establish a fundamental difference between 
spiritual influence on our spirits and spiritual influence on the material 
world, — we shall naturally be prompted to inquire whether inorganic 
matter as well as organic ever shows the agency of extraneous spirits 
upon it. The reply which first suggests itself is, of course, in the negative. 
We are constantly dealing with inorganic matter, and no hypothesis of 
spiritual influence exerted on such matter is needed to explain our experi- 
ments. But this is a rough general statement, hardly likely to cover 
phenomena so rare and fugitive as many of those with which in this in- 
quiry we deal. Let us begin, so to say, at the other end; not with the 
broad experience of life, but with the delicate and exceptional cases of 
possession of which we have lately been speaking. 

Suppose that a discarnate spirit, in temporary possession of a living 
organism, is impelling it to motor automatisms. Can we say a priori 
what the limits of such automatic movements of that organism are likely 
to be, in the same way as we can say what the limits of any of its volun- 
tary movements are likely to be? May not this extraneous spirit get 
more motor power out of the organism than the waking man himself 
can get out of it? It would not surprise us, for example, if the move- 
ments in trance showed increased concentration; if a dynamometer (for 
instance) was more forcibly squeezed by the spirit acting through the 
man than by the man himself. Is there any other way in which one 


would imagine that a spirit possessing me could use my vital force 
more skilfully than I could use it myself? 

I do not know how my will moves my arm; but I know by experience 
that my will generally moves only my arm and what my arm can touch; 
— whatever objects are actually in contact with the " protoplasmic skele- 
ton" which represents the life of my organism. Yet I can sometimes 
move objects not in actual contact, as by melting them with the heat or 
(in the dry air of Colorado) kindling them with the electricity, which 
my fingers emit. I see no very definite limit to this power. I do not 
know all the forms of energy which my fingers might, under suitable 
training, emit. 

And now suppose that a possessing spirit can use my organism more 
skilfully than I can. May he not manage to emit from that organism 
some energy which can visibly move ponderable objects not actually 
in contact with my flesh? That would be a phenomenon of possession 
not very unlike its other phenomena; — and it would be telekinesis. 

By that word (due to M. Aksakoff) it is convenient to describe what 
have been called "the physical phenomena of spiritualism," as to whose 
existence as a reality, and not as a system of fraudulent pretences, fierce 
controversy has raged for half a century, and is still raging. 

The interest excited in the ordinary public by these phenomena has, 
as is well known, fostered much fraud, to expose and guard against which 
has been one of the main tasks of the S.P.R. 1 

Indeed, the persistent simulation of telekinesis has, naturally enough, 
inspired persistent doubt as to its genuine occurrence even in cases where 
simulation has been carefully guarded against, or is antecedently improb- 
able. And thus while believing absolutely in the occurrence of telekinetic 
phenomena, I yet hold that it would be premature to press them upon 
my readers' belief, or to introduce them as an integral part of my general 
expository scheme. From one point of view, their detailed establish- 
ment, as against the theory of fraud, demands an expert knowledge of 
conjuring and other arts which I cannot claim to possess. From another 
point of view, their right comprehension must depend upon a knowledge 
of the relations between matter and ether such as is now only dimly adum- 
brated by the most recent discoveries; — for instance, discoveries as to 
previously unsuspected forms of radiation. 

In a long Appendix, viz., "Scheme of Vital Faculty" 2 — originally 

1 See Modem Spiritualism; a History and a Criticism, by Frank Podmore (Me- 
thuen and Co., London, 1902). 

2 In this edition the Synopsis alone is given. See Appendix IX. A. 



written with reference to the manifestations through Mr. Stainton Moses 
— I have tried to prepare the way for future inquiries; to indicate in 
what directions a better equipped exploration may hereafter reap rich 
reward. Even that tentative sketch, perhaps, may have been too am- 
bitious for my powers in the present state not only of my own, but of 
human knowledge; and in this chapter I shall allude to telekinetic 
phenomena only where unavoidable, — owing to their inmixture into 
phenomena more directly psychological, — and in the tone of the 
historian rather than of the scientific critic. 

The way has now been so far cleared for our cases of Possession 
that at least the principal phenomena claimed have been (I hope) 
made intelligible, and shown to be concordant with other phenomena 
already described and attested. It will be best, however, to consider 
first some of the more rudimentary cases before going on to our own 
special instances of possession, — those of Mr. Stainton Moses or Mrs. 

We have already seen that there is no great gulf between the 
sudden incursions, the rapid messages of the dead, with which we are 
already familiar, and incursions so intimate, messages so prolonged, 
as to lay claim to a name more descriptive than that of motor automa- 

And similarly no line of absolute separation can be drawn between 
the brief psychical excursions previously described, and those more pro- 
longed excursions of the spirit which I would group under the name of 

In the earlier part of this book I have naturally dwelt rather on the 
evidence for supernormal acquisition of knowledge than on the methods 
of such acquisition, and my present discussion must needs be restricted 
to a certain extent in the same way. We must, however, attempt some 
provisional scheme of classification, though recognising that the diffi- 
culties of interpretation which I pointed out in Chapter IV., when en- 
deavouring to distinguish between telepathy and telaesthesia, meet us 
again in dealing with possession and ecstasy. We may not, that is, be 
able to say, as regards a particular manifestation, whether it is an instance 
of incipient possession, or incipient ecstasy, or even whether the organism 
is being " controlled" directly by some extraneous spirit or by its own 

1 The asterisks indicate the end of the part of this chapter which was consecu- 
tively composed by the author. The rest of the chapter consists chiefly of fragments 
written by him at different times. 


incarnate spirit. It is from the extreme cases that we form our cate- 
gories. But now that we have reached some conception of what is 
involved in ecstasy and possession, we can interpret some earlier cases 
in this new light. Such experiences, for instance, as those of Mr. 
Mamtchitch (Appendix VII. A) and Miss Conley (Appendix VII. D), 
suggest a close kinship to the more developed cases of Mr. Moses and 
Mrs. Piper. 

In other cases it may be clear that no control of any discarnate spirit 
is involved, but there seems to be something like incipient possession 
by the subliminal self or incarnate spirit. From this point of view the 
first case given in Appendix IX. B is of undoubted psychological 
interest. If it is not a case of thought-transference from Miss C. to Mrs. 
Luther (possibly between their subliminal selves during sleep), we must 
assume that a very remarkable recrudescence of latent memory occurred 
to the latter independently, at the same time that a similar though less 
remarkable revival of memory occurred to the former. But I introduce 
the case here simply as suggestive of the momentary domination of the 
subliminal over the supraliminal self. 

In Professor Thoulet's case * we find a fuller control by the subliminal 
self, with a manifestation of knowledge suggesting some spiritual excur- 
sion; in Mr. GoodalFs case there seems to be a telepathic conversation 
between his subliminal self controlling his utterance and some perhaps 
discarnate spirit; and finally, in Mr. Wilkie's case, there is the definite 
superposition, as it were, of a discarnate spirit's message upon the automa- 
tist in such a way that we are led to wonder whether it was the mind or 
the brain of the automatist that received the message. The first step 
apparently is the abeyance of the supraliminal self and the dominance 
of the subliminal self, which may lead in rare cases to a form of trance 
(or of what we have hitherto called secondary personality) where the whole 
body of the automatist is controlled by his own subliminal self, or in- 
carnate spirit, but where there is no indication of any relation with dis- 
carnate spirits. The next form of trance is where the incarnate spirit, 
whether or not maintaining control of the whole body, makes excursions 
into or holds telepathic intercourse with the spiritual world. And, lastly, 
there is the trance of possession by another, a discarnate spirit. We 
cannot, of course, always distinguish between these three main types 
of trance — which, as we shall see later, themselves admit of different 
degrees and varieties. 

The most striking case known to me of the first form of trance — 
1 This as well as the next two cases mentioned are given in Appendix IX. B. 


possession by the subliminal self — is that of the Rev. C. B. Sanders, 1 whose 
trance-personality has always called itself by the name of "X+ Y = Z." 
The life of the normal Mr. Sanders has apparently been passed in the 
environment of a special form of Presbyterian doctrine, and there seems 
to have been a fear on the part of Mr. Sanders himself lest the trance 
manifestations of which he was the subject should conflict with the theo- 
logical position which he held as a minister; and indeed for several years 
of his early suffering "he was inclined to regard his peculiar case of afflic- 
tion as the result of Satanic agency." On the part of some of his friends 
also there seems to be a special desire to show that "X + Y = Z" was 
not heterodox. Under these circumstances it is perhaps not surprising 
that we find so much reticence in "X+Y = Z" concerning his own 
relations to the normal Mr. Sanders, whom he calls "his casket." What 
little explanation is offered seems to be in singular harmony with one of 
the main tenets advanced in this book, since the claim made by 
"X+Y=Z" is obviously that he represents the incarnate spirit of Mr. 
Sanders exercising the higher faculties which naturally pertain to it, but 
which can be manifested to the full only when it is freed from its fleshly 
barriers. This frequently occurs, he says, in dying persons, who describe 
scenes in the spiritual world, and in his own experience when "his 
casket" is similarly affected, and the bodily obstructions to spiritual 
vision are removed. 

In this case, then, the subliminal self seems to take complete control 
of the organism, exercising its own powers of telepathy and telaesthesia, 
but showing no evidence of direct communication with discarnate spirits. 
We must now pass on to the most notable recent case where such 
communication has been claimed, — that of Swedenborg, — to whose 
exceptional trance-history and attempt to give some scientific system 
to his experiences of ecstasy I referred in Chapter L 

The evidential matter which Swedenborg has left behind him is singu- 
larly scanty in comparison with his pretensions to a communion of many 
years with so many spirits of the departed. But I think that the half- 
dozen "evidential cases" scattered through his memoirs are stamped 
with the impress of truth, — and I think, also, that without some true 
experience of the spiritual world Swedenborg could not have entered 
into that atmosphere of truth in which even his worst errors are held 
in solution. Swedenborg's writings on the World of spirits fall in the 

1 See X+Y=Z; or, The Sleeping Preacher of North Alabama. Containing an 
account of most wonderful mysterious mental phenomena, fully authenticated by living 
witnesses. By the Rev. G. W. Mitchell. (New York: W. C. Smith, 67 John Street, 
1876) [934 A]. 


main into two classes, — albeit classes not easily divided. There are 
experiential writings and there are dogmatic writings. The first of these 
classes contains accounts of what he saw and felt in that world, and of 
such inferences with regard to its laws as his actual experience suggested. 
Now, speaking broadly, all this mass of matter, covering some hundreds 
of propositions, is in substantial accord with what has been given through 
the most trustworthy sensitives since Swedenborg's time. It is indeed 
usual to suppose that they have all been influenced by Swedenborg; and 
although I feel sure that this was not so in any direct manner in the case 
of the sensitives best known to myself, it is probable that Swedenborg's 
alleged experiences have affected modern thought more deeply than most 
modern thinkers know. 

On the other hand, the second or purely dogmatic class of Sweden- 
borg's writings, — the records of instruction alleged to have been given 
to him by spirits on the inner meaning of the Scriptures, etc., — these 
have more and more appeared to be mere arbitrary fancies ; — mere 
projections and repercussions of his own preconceived ideas. 

On the whole, then, — with some stretching, yet no contravention, 
of conclusions independently reached, — I may say that Swedenborg's 
story, — one of the strangest lives yet lived by mortal men, — is cor- 
roborative rather than destructive of the slowly rising fabric of knowledge 
of which he was the uniquely gifted, but uniquely dangerous, precursor. 

It seemed desirable here to refer thus briefly to the doctrinal teach- 
ings of Swedenborg, but I shall deal later with the general question how 
much or how little of the statements of " sensitives" about the spiritual 
world — whether based on their own visions or on the allegations of their 
"controlling spirits" — are worthy of credence. In the case of Sweden- 
borg there was at least some evidence, of the kind to which we can here 
appeal, of his actual communication with discarnate spirits; l but in most 
other cases of alleged ecstasy there is little or nothing to show that the 
supposed revelations are not purely subjective. (See, e.g., the revela- 
tions of Alphonse Cahagnet's sensitives, described in his Arcanes de la 
vie future devoilees.) 2 At most, these visions must be regarded as a kind 
of symbolical representation of the unseen world. 3 

1 For Kant's evidence in regard to the supernormal powers of Swedenborg, see 
"Dreams of a Spirit Seer," by Immanuel Kant, translated by E. F. Goerwitz; edited 
by Frank Sewall (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co.; New York: The Macmillan 
Co., 1900) [936 A]. 

2 See also an account of the "Seeress of Prevorst," translated from the German 
by Mrs. Crowe, and published in London in 1845 [936 B]. 

3 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 560 [936 C]. 


Among Cahagnet's subjects, however, there was one young woman, 
Adele Maginot, who not only saw heavenly visions of the usual post- 
Swedenborgian kind, but also obtained evidential communications — 
not unlike those of Mrs. Piper — purporting to come from discarnate 
spirits. Fortunately these were recorded with unusual care and thorough- 
ness by Cahagnet, and the case thus becomes one of considerable im- 
portance for our inquiries. A general account of Cahagnet's work has 
recently been given in the Proceedings S.P.R. (vol. xiv. p. 50) by Mr. 
Podmore, who, though finding it "almost impossible to doubt that Adele's 
success was due to some kind of supernormal faculty," thinks it might 
be accounted for by telepathy from living persons. It appears that in 
all her trances Adele — like Mr. Sanders — was controlled by her own 
subliminal self — that is to say, her supraliminal self became dormant, 
under "magnetism" by Cahagnet, while her subliminal self in trance- 
utterance manifested a knowledge which was, as I incline to think from 
its analogies with more developed cases, obtained from the spiritual world. 
That this knowledge should be mixed with much that was erroneous 
or unverifiable is not surprising. 

It is also interesting to note the occurrence in this case of circum- 
stances which in their general character have become so habitual in trances 
of "mediumistic" type that they are not only found in genuine subjects, 
but are continually being simulated by the fraudulent. I refer to the 
so-called "taking on of the death conditions" of a communicating spirit, 
who, as Adele stated, died of suffocation. "Adele chokes as this man 
choked, and coughed as he did. ... I was obliged to release her by 
passes; she suffered terribly." 

I need scarcely say that this suggests incipient possession. There 
were occasional analogous instances in the early trances of Mrs. Piper, 
when Phinuit was the controlling influence (see Proceedings S.P.R. , vol. 
viii. p. 98, Professor Barrett Wendell's account; and vol. xiii. p. 384). 
Other points of similarity between the accounts of the entranced Adele 
and the utterances of Phinuit will be apparent to the student of the records. 

The next case to be considered, and so far one of the most important, 
is that of D. D. Home. 

The study of such records as are available of Home's psychical phe- 
nomena leaves me with the conviction that, — apart altogether from 
the telekinetic phenomena with which they were associated, — his trance- 
utterances belong to the same natural order as those, for instance, of Mr. 
Moses and Mrs. Piper. There are, however, important differences be- 
tween these cases, — differences which should be of special instruction 


to us in endeavouring to comprehend the possession that completely 
excludes the subliminal self, and to appreciate the difficulty of obtaining 
this complete possession. 

Thus in Home's case the subliminal self seems, throughout the longest 
series of seances of which we have a record, to have been the spirit chiefly 
controlling him during the trance and acting as intermediary for other 
spirits, who occasionally, however, took complete possession. 

In Mrs. Piper's case, as we shall see, the subliminal self is very little 
in direct evidence; its manifestations form a fleeting interlude between 
her waking state and her possession by a discarnate spirit. In Mr. Moses' 
case, the subliminal self was rarely in direct evidence at all when he was 
entranced; but we infer from these other cases that it was probably 
dominant at some stage of his trance, even if at other times it was 
excluded or became completely dormant. 

And if, in Home's case, as there seems reason to suppose, the sub- 
liminal self may have participated with discarnate spirits in the produc- 
tion of telekinetic phenomena, as well as in the communication of tests 
of personal identity, it is not improbable that the subliminal self of Mr. 
Moses may also have been actively concerned in both these classes of 

But, although I attribute much value to what evidence exists in the 
case of Home, it cannot but be deplored that the inestimable chance for 
experiment and record which this case afforded was almost entirely thrown 
away by the scientific world. Unfortunately the record is especially 
inadequate in reference to Home's trances and the evidence for the per- 
sonal identity of the communicating spirits. His name is known to the 
world chiefly in connection with the telekinetic phenomena which are 
said to have occurred in his presence, and the best accounts of which 
we owe to Sir William Crookes. It is not my intention, as I have already 
explained, to deal with these, but it must be understood that they form 
an integral part of the manifestations in this case, as in the case of 
Stainton Moses. For detailed accounts of them the reader should 
consult the history of Home's life and experiences. 1 

1 The chief sources of information as to D. D. Home's life and experiences are 
the following works : — 

Incidents in my Life, by D. D. Home (ist edition, London, 1863; 2nd edition, 
1864; second series, 1872). 

D. D. Home: His Life and Mission, by Madame Dunglas Home (London, 

The Gift of D. D. Home, by Madame Dunglas Home (London, 1890). 

Report on Spiritualism of the Committee of the London Dialectical Society (London, 


To the history of William Stainton Moses I now turn. Here the 
evidence for the telekinetic phenomena is comparatively slight, since 
they occurred almost exclusively in the presence of a small group of in- 
timate personal friends, and were never scrutinised and examined by 
outside witnesses as were Home's manifestations. On the other hand, 
we have detailed records of Mr. Moses' whole series of experiences, while 
in the case of Home, as I have said, the record is very imperfect. As 
to the telekinetic phenomena, Mr. Moses himself regarded them as a 
mere means to an end, in accordance with the view urged on him by his 
"controls," — that they were intended as proofs of the power and 
authority of these latter, while the real message lay in the religious 
teaching imparted to him. 

It was on May 9th, 1874, that Edmund Gurney and I met Stainton 
Moses for the first time, through the kindness of Mrs. Cowper-Temple 
(afterwards Lady Mount-Temple), who knew that we had become in- 
terested in "psychical" problems, and wished to introduce us to a man 
of honour who had recently experienced phenomena, due wholly to some 
gift of his own, which had profoundly changed his conception of life. 

Here was a man of University education, of manifest sanity and probity, 
who vouched to us for a series of phenomena, — occurring to himself, and 
with no doubtful or venal aid, — which seemed at least to prove, in con- 
fusedly intermingled form, three main theses unknown to Science. These 
were (1) the existence in the human spirit of hidden powers of insight and 
of communication; (2) the personal survival and near presence of the de- 
parted; and (3) interference, due to unknown agencies, with the ponder- 
able world. He spoke frankly and fully; he showed his note-books; he 
referred us to his friends; he inspired a belief which was at once sufficient, 
and which is still sufficient, to prompt to action. 

187 1). This contains the evidence of the Master of Lindsay, — now Earl of Craw- 
ford and Balcarres, — and others. 

Experiences in Spiritualism with Mr. D. D. Home, by Viscount Adare (now Lord 
Dunraven; privately printed). 

Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, by William Crookes, F.R.S. Re- 
printed from the Quarterly Journal 0} Science (London, 1874). 

Notes of Siances with D. D. Home, by William Crookes, F.R.S. {Proceedings 
S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 98.) 

See also a review by Professor Barrett and the present writer of Madame Home's 
first book, D. D. Home: His Life and Mission, in the Journal S.P.R., vol. iv. pp. 
101-136; a briefer review of her second book, The Gift of D. D. Home, in the Journal 
S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 249; and a note on "The Character of D. D. Home" in the Journal 
S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 176; also an article by Mr. Hamilton Aide, "Was I hypnotised?" 
in the Nineteenth Century for April 1890. 


The experiences which Stainton Moses had undergone had changed 
his views, but not his character. He was already set in the mould of the 
hard-working, conscientious, dogmatic clergyman, with a strong desire 
to do good, and a strong belief in preaching as the best way to do it. For 
himself the essential part of what I have called his "message" lay in the 
actual words automatically uttered or written, — not in the accompanying 
phenomena which really gave their uniqueness and importance to the 
automatic processes. In a book called Spirit Teachings he collected what 
he regarded as the real fruits of those years of mysterious listening in the 
vestibule of a world unknown. 

My original impressions as regards Mr. Moses were strengthened 
by the opportunity which I had of examining his unpublished MSS. after 
his death on September 5th, 1892. These consist of thirty-one note- 
books — twenty-four of automatic script, four of records of physical 
phenomena, and three of retrospect and summary. In addition to these, 
the material available for a knowledge of Mr. Moses' experiences con- 
sists of his own printed works, and the written and printed statements 
of witnesses to his phenomena. 

Of this available material a detailed account will be found in Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 245-352, and vol. xi. pp. 24-113, together 
with a brief record of Mr. Moses' life. 

With the even tenor of this straightforward and reputable life was 
inwoven a chain of mysteries which, as I think, in what way soever 
they be explained, make it one of the most extraordinary which our 
century has seen. For its true history lies in that series of physical mani- 
festations which began in 1872 and lasted for some eight years, and that 
series of automatic writings and trance-utterances which began in 1873, 
received a record for some ten years, and did not, as is believed, cease 
altogether until the earthly end was near. 

These two series were intimately connected; the physical phenomena 
being avowedly designed to give authority to the speeches and writings 
which professed to emanate from the same source. There is no ground 
for separating the two groups, except the obvious one that the automatic 
phenomena are less difficult of credence than the physical; but, for rea- 
sons already stated, it has seemed to me desirable to exclude the latter 
from detailed treatment in this work. They included the apparent pro- 
duction of such phenomena as intelligent raps, movements of objects 
untouched, levitation, disappearance and reappearance of objects, pas- 
sage of matter through matter, direct writing, sounds supernormally 
made on instruments, direct sounds, scents, lights, objects materialised, 


hands materialised (touched or seen). Mr. Moses was sometimes, but 
not always, entranced while these physical phenomena were occurring. 
Sometimes he was entranced and the trance-utterance purported to be 
that of a discarnate spirit. At other times, especially when alone, he 
wrote automatically, retaining his own ordinary consciousness mean- 
while, and carrying on lengthy discussions with the "spirit influence" 
controlling his hand and answering his questions, etc. As a general rule 
the same alleged spirits both manifested themselves by raps, etc., at Mr. 
Moses' sittings with his friends, and also wrote through his hand when 
he was alone. In this, as in other respects, Mr. Moses' two series of writ- 
ings — when alone and in company — were concordant, and, so to say, 
complementary; — explanations being given by the writing of what had 
happened at the seances. When "direct writing" was given at the 
seances the handwriting of each alleged spirit was the same as that 
which the same spirit was in the habit of employing in the automatic 
script. The claim to individuality was thus in all cases decisively made. 
Now the personages thus claiming to appear may be divided roughly 
into three classes: — 

A. — First and most important are a group of persons recently de- 
ceased, and sometimes manifesting themselves at the stances before 
their decease was known through any ordinary channel to any of the 
persons present. These spirits in many instances give tests of identity, 
mentioning facts connected with their earth-lives which are afterwards 
found to be correct. 

B. — Next comes a group of personages belonging to generations 
more remote, and generally of some distinction in their day. Grocyn, 
the friend of Erasmus, may be taken as a type of these. Many of these 
also contribute facts as a proof of identity, which facts are sometimes 
more correct than the conscious or admitted knowledge of any of the 
sitters could supply. In such cases, however, the difficulty of proving 
identity is increased by the fact that most of the correct statements are 
readily accessible in print, and may conceivably have either been read 
and forgotten by Mr. Moses, or have become known to him by some 
kind of clairvoyance. 

C. — A third group consists of spirits who give such names as Rector, 
Doctor, Theophilus, and, above all, Imperator. These from time to 
time reveal the names which they assert to have been theirs in earth-life. 
These concealed names are for the most part both more illustrious, and 
more remote, than the names in Class B, — and were withheld by Mr. 
Moses himself, who justly felt that the assumption of great names is 


likely to diminish rather than to increase the weight of the communi- 

I now pass on to consider briefly the nature of the evidence that the 
alleged spirits were what they purported to be, as described, in the first 
place, in Mr. Moses* books of automatic writing. The contents of these 
books consist partly of messages tending to prove the identity of com- 
municating spirits; partly of discussions or explanations of the physical 
phenomena; and partly of religious and moral disquisitions. 

These automatic messages were almost wholly written by Mr. Moses* 
own hand, while he was in a normal waking state. The exceptions are 
of two kinds. (1) There is one long passage, alleged by Mr. Moses to 
have been written by himself while in a state of trance. (2) There are, 
here and there, a few words alleged to be in "direct writing"; — written, 
that is to say, by invisible hands, but in Mr. Moses' presence; as several 
times described in the notes of seances where other persons were present. 

Putting these exceptional instances aside, we find that the writings 
generally take the form of a dialogue, Mr. Moses proposing a question 
in his ordinary thick, black handwriting. An answer is then generally, 
though not always, given; written also by Mr. Moses, and with the same 
pen, but in some one of various scripts which differ more or less widely 
from his own. Mr. Moses* own description of the process, as given in 
the preface to Spirit Teachings, may be studied with advantage. 

A prolonged study of the MS. books has revealed nothing inconsistent 
with this description. I have myself, of course, searched them carefully 
for any sign of confusion or alteration, but without finding any; and I 
have shown parts of them to various friends, who have seen no points 
of suspicion. It seems plain, moreover, that the various entries were 
made at or about the dates to which they are ascribed. They contain 
constant references to the seances which went on concurrently, and whose 
dates are independently known; and in the later books, records of some 
of these seances are interspersed in their due places amongst other matter. 
The MSS. contain also a number of allusions to other contemporaneous 
facts, many of which are independently known to myself. 

I think, moreover, that no one who had studied these entries through- 
out would doubt the originally private and intimate character of many 
of them. The tone of the spirits towards Mr. Moses himself is habitually 
courteous and respectful. But occasionally they have some criticism 
which pierces to the quick, and which goes far to explain to me Mr. Moses* 
unwillingness to have the books fully inspected during his lifetime. He 
did, no doubt, contemplate their being at least read by friends after his 


death; and there are indications that there may have been a still more 
private book, now doubtless destroyed, to which messages of an intimate 
character were sometimes consigned. 

Indeed, the questions at issue, as to these messages, refer not so much 
to their genuineness as to their authenticity, in the proper sense of those 
words. That they were written down in good faith by Mr. Moses as 
proceeding from the personages whose names are signed to them, there 
can be little doubt. But as to whether they did really proceed from those 
personages or no there may in many cases be very great doubt ; — a doubt 
which I, at least, shall be quite unable to remove. By the very condi- 
tions of the communication they cannot show commanding intellect, 
or teach entirely new truths, since their manifestations are ex hypothesi 
limited by the capacity — not by the previous knowledge, but by the pre- 
vious capacity — of the medium. And if they give facts not consciously 
known to the medium — facts however elaborate — it may, of course, 
be suggested that these facts have been subliminally acquired by the me- 
dium through some unconscious passage of the eye over a printed page, 
or else that they are clairvoyantly learnt, without the agency of any but 
the medium's own mind, though acting in a supernormal fashion. 

The case of Helene Smith has shown us how far-reaching may be the 
faculties of hyperesthesia and hypermnesia in the subliminal self; but 
in view of the then general ignorance of the scientific world on this sub- 
ject, it is not surprising that both Mr. Moses and his friends absolutely 
rejected this explanation of his phenomena, and that the evidence appeared 
to them more conclusive than it possibly can to us. Whether or not the 
alleged spirits were concerned, — as may sometimes, of course, have 
been the case, — we can hardly avoid thinking that the subliminal self 
of the medium played at least a considerable part in the communications. 

In two cases the announcement of a death was made to Mr. Moses, 
when the news was apparently not known to him by any normal means. 
One of these is the case of President Garfield {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. 
xi. p. ioo). The other (see my article in Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xi. 
pp. 96 et seq.) is in some ways the most remarkable of all, from the 
series of chances which have been needful in order to establish its 
veracity. Specially noticeable in this case is the resemblance of the 
handwriting of the script to that of the alleged control, a lady whose 
writing was almost certainly unknown to Mr. Moses. Both to the lady's 
son and to myself the resemblance appeared incontestable, and our 
opinion was confirmed by Dr. Hodgson, who was an expert in such 


And now we must briefly go through the points which make such 
messages as were received by Mr. Moses prima jade evidential, which 
indicate, that is to say, that they actually do come in some way from 
their alleged source. A brief recapitulation of the main stages of 
evidential quality in messages given by automatic writing or by trance- 
utterances is all that will be needed here. 

(1) Evidentially lowest comes the class of messages which is by far 
the most common; messages, namely, in which, although some special 
identity may be claimed, all the facts given have been consciously known 
to the automatist. Here we may well suppose that his own personality 
alone is concerned, and that the messages have a subliminal, but not an 
external source. 

(2) Next above these come messages containing facts likely to be 
known to the alleged spirit, and not consciously known to the automatist; 
but which facts may nevertheless have some time been noted by the 
automatist, even unwittingly, and may have thus obtained lodgment 
in his subliminal memory. 

(3) Next come facts which can be proved, — with such varying de- 
grees of certainty as such negative proof allows, — never to have been 
in any way known to the automatist; but which nevertheless are easily 
to be found in books; so that they may have been learnt clairvoyantly 
by the automatist himself, or learnt and communicated to him by some 
mind other than that of the alleged spirit. 

(4) Next come facts which can be proved, with similar varying de- 
grees of certainty according to the circumstances, never to have been 
known to the automatist, or recorded in print; but which were known 
to the alleged spirit and can be verified by the memories of living 

(5) Above this again would come that class of experimental messages, 
or posthumous letters, of which we have as yet very few good examples, 
where the departed person has before death arranged some special test 
— some fact or sentence known only to himself, which he is to transmit 
after death, if possible, as a token of his return. 

(6) Thus much for the various kinds of verbal messages, which can 
be kept and analysed at leisure. We must now turn to evidence of a 
different and not precisely comparable kind. In point of fact it is not 
these inferences from written matter which have commonly been most 
efficacious in compelling the survivor's belief in the reality of the friend's 
return. Whether logically or no, it is not so much the written message 
that he trusts, but some phantom of face and voice that he knew so well, 


It is this familiar convincing presence, — iiicro Be 6i<TKe\ov dvru>, — on 
which the percipient has always insisted, since Achilles strove in vain 
to embrace Patroclus' shade. 

How far such a phantasm is in fact a proof of any real action on the 
part of the spirit thus recognised is a problem which has been dealt with 
already in Chapter VII. The upshot of our evidence to my mind is that 
although the apparition of a departed person cannot per se rank as evi- 
dence of his presence, yet this is not a shape which purely hallucinatory 
phantasms seem often to assume; and if there be any corroborative evi- 
dence, as, for instance, writing which claims to come from the same per- 
son, the chance that he is really operative is considerable. In Mr. Moses' 
case almost all the figures which he saw brought with them some 
corroboration by writing, trance-utterance, gesture-messages (as where 
a figure makes signs of assent or dissent), or raps. 

(7) And this brings us to a class largely represented in Mr. Moses' 
series, where writings professing to come from a certain spirit are sup- 
ported by physical phenomena of which that spirit claims also to be the 
author. Whether such a line of proof can ever be made logically com- 
plete or no, one can imagine many cases where it would be practically 
convincing to almost all minds. Materialisations of hands, or direct 
writing in the script of the departed, have much of actual cogency; and 
these methods, with others like them, are employed by Mr. Moses' " con- 
trols " in their efforts to establish their own identities. Physical phenomena 
in themselves, however, carry no proof of an intelligence outside that 
of the sensitive himself, and, as I have said, may in many cases be a mere 
extension of his own ordinary muscular powers, and not due to any 
external agency at all. 

If we confine ourselves to the verbal messages, we find that the cases 
most fully represented in the records of Mr. Moses are limited to the 
first three classes mentioned above, and those which come under the 
fourth class — verifiable facts of which there is no printed record and 
which it is practically certain that the medium could never have known 
— are comparatively few. This may partly be accounted for by the 
small number of sitters with Mr. Moses and the fact that they were his 
personal friends. The records of Mrs. Piper, on the other hand, to which 
we now turn, are especially rich in incidents that fall under the fourth 
heading, and the evidential value of the verbal messages in this case is, 
therefore, much greater than in the case of Mr. Moses. Whereas for 
Mr. Moses the identity of many of his communicators rested largely upon 
their being guaranteed by Imperator and his group of helpers, — in the 


case of Mrs. Piper the spirits of some recently-departed friends who have 
given much evidence of their identity appear to maintain the independent 
reality and guiding control over Mrs. Piper of these same intelligences 
— Imperator, Rector, Doctor, and others — that Mr. Moses claimed 
as ruling in his own experience. 

The case of Mrs. Piper differs in two important respects from that 
of W. Stainton Moses or D. D. Home. In the first place no telekinetic 
phenomena have occurred in connection with her trance-manifestations; 
and in the second place her supraliminal self shows no traces of any super-^ 
normal faculty whatsoever. She presents an instance of automatism 
of the extreme type where the " possession" is not merely local or partial, 
but affects, so to say, the whole psychical area, — where the supraliminal 
self is for a time completely displaced, and the whole personality appears 
to suffer intermittent change. In other words, she passes into a trance, 
during which her organs of speech or writing are "controlled" by other 
personalities than the normal waking one. Occasionally, either just 
before or just after the trance, the subliminal self appears to take some 
control of the organism for a brief interval; but with this exception the 
personalities that speak or write during her trance claim to be discarnate 

Mrs. Piper's trances may be divided into three stages: (1) Where the 
dominant controlling personality was known as "Dr. Phinuit" and used 
the vocal- organs almost exclusively, communicating by trance-utterance , 

(2) Where the communications were made chiefly by automatic 
writing in the trance under the supervision more particularly of the 
control known as "George Pelham," or "G. P.," although "Dr. Phinuit" 
usually communicated also by speech during this period, 1892-96. 

(3) Where supervision is alleged to be exercised by Imperator, Doctor, 
Rector, and others already mentioned in connection with the experiences 
of Mr. Moses, and where the communications have been mainly by writ- 
ing, but occasionally also by speech. This last stage, which began early 
in 1897, still continues, and the final outcome remains to be seen. 

I proceed now to indicate in further detail the nature of the evidence 
and the character of the manifestations themselves, and begin by quot- 
ing from Dr. Hodgson {Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 367-68) a brief 
statement of some of the historical facts of the case. 

Mrs. Piper has been giving sittings for a period extending over thir- 
teen [now, 1 90 1, seventeen] years. Very early in her trance history she 
came under the attention of Professor James, who sent many persons 


to her as strangers, in most cases making the appointments himself, and 
in no case giving their names. She came to some extent under my own 
supervision in 1887, and I also sent many persons to her, in many cases 
accompanying them and recording the statements made at their sittings, 
and taking all the care that I could to prevent Mrs. Piper's obtaining 
any knowledge beforehand of who the sitters were to be. In 1889-90 
Mrs. Piper gave a series of sittings in England under the supervision 
of Dr. Walter Leaf and Mr. Myers and Professor Lodge, where also 
the most careful precautions possible were taken to ensure that the sitters 
went as strangers to Mrs. Piper. Further sittings were supervised by 
myself in 1890-91 after Mrs. Piper's return to America. Many persons 
who had sittings in the course of these earlier investigations were con- 
vinced that they were actually receiving communications from their 
"deceased" friends through Mrs. Piper's trance, but although the special 
investigators were satisfied, from their study of the trance-phenomena 
themselves and a careful analysis of the detailed records of the sittings, 
that some supernormal power was involved, there was no definite agree- 
ment as to their precise significance. And to myself it seemed that any 
hypothesis that was offered presented formidable difficulties in the way 
of its acceptance. In the course of these earlier investigations the com- 
munications were given almost entirely through the speech-utterance 
of the trance-personality known as Phinuit, and even the best of them 
were apt to include much matter that was irrelevant and unlike the 
alleged communicators, while there were many indications that Phinuit 
himself was far from being the kind of person in whom we should be 
disposed to place implicit credence. 

During the years 1892-96 inclusive, I exercised a yet closer super- 
vision of Mrs. Piper's trances than I had done in previous years, con- 
tinuing to take all the precautions that I could as regards the introduction 
of persons as strangers. This period was marked by a notable evolution 
in the quality of the trance results, beginning early in 1892. The char- 
acter of the manifestations changed with the development of automatic 
writing in the trance, and with what was alleged to be the continual ren- 
dering of active assistance by the communicator whom I have called 
G. P. [George Pelham]. As a result of this it appeared that communi- 
cators were able to express their thoughts directly through the writing 
by Mrs. Piper's hand, instead of conveying them more dimly and partially 
through Phinuit as intermediary; and the advice and guidance which 
they, apparently, received from G. P. enabled them to avoid much of 
the confusion and irrelevancy so characteristic of the earlier manifestations. 

I do not propose here to discuss the hypothesis of fraud in this case, 
since it has been fully discussed by Dr. Hodgson, Professor William James, 
Professor Newbold of Pennsylvania University, Dr. Walter Leaf, and 
Sir Oliver Lodge. 1 I merely quote, as a summary of the argument, a 

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. vi. pp. 436-659; vol. viii. pp. 1-167; vol. xiii. pp. 284- 
582; vol. xiv. pp. 6-78; vol. xv. pp. 16-52; vol. xvi. pp. 1-649. 


few words of Professor James, from The Psychological Review, July, 
1898, pp. 421-22: — 

Dr. Hodgson considers that the hypothesis of fraud cannot be seriously 
maintained. I agree with him absolutely. The medium has been under 
observation, much of the time under close observation, as to most of the 
conditions of her life, by a large number of persons, eager, many of them, 
to pounce upon any suspicious circumstance for [nearly] fifteen years. 
During that time, not only has there not been one single suspicious cir- 
cumstance remarked, but not one suggestion has ever been made from 
any quarter which might tend positively to explain how the medium, 
living the apparent life she leads, could possibly collect information about 
so many sitters by natural means. The scientist who is confident of 
"fraud" here, must remember that in science as much as in common 
life a hypothesis must receive some positive specification and determina- 
tion before it can be profitably discussed, and a fraud which is no assigned 
kind of fraud, but simply "fraud" at large, fraud in abstracto, can hardly 
be regarded as a specially scientific explanation of concrete facts. 

Unfortunately we have no contemporary records of what occurred 
during Mrs. Piper's earliest trances; nor practically any information 
as to the first manifestations of the Phinuit personality. It seems clear 
at least that the name Phinuit was the result of suggestion at these earliest 
trances (see Proceedings S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 46-58), and many may think 
it most probable that the Phinuit "control" was nothing more than a 
secondary personality of Mrs. Piper. But, according to the statements 
(for which there is of course no evidence) made by "Imperator," Phinuit 
was an "earth-bound" or inferior spirit, who had become confused and 
bewildered in his first attempts at communication, and had, as we say, 
"lost his consciousness of personal identity." That such an occurrence 
is not uncommon in this life is plain from the cases to which I have drawn 
attention in Chapter II. of this book, and we cannot prove it to be im- 
possible that profound memory disturbances should be produced in an 
inexperienced discarnate spirit when first attempting to communicate 
with us through a material organism. Be that as it may, the Phinuit 
personality has not manifested either directly or indirectly since January 
1897, when "Imperator" claimed the supervision of Mrs. Piper's trances. 

There were various cases of alleged direct "control" by spirits other 
than Phinuit during the first stage of Mrs. Piper's trance history. 
But such cases were not usual, and on the whole, although there seemed 
to be abundant proof of some supernormal faculty which demanded 
at least the hypothesis of thought-transference from living persons both 
near and distant, and suggested occasionally some power of telaesthesia 


or perhaps even of premonition, yet the main question with which we 
are now concerned, — whether Mrs. Piper's organism was controlled, 
directly or indirectly, by discarnate spirits who could give satisfactory 
evidence of their identity, — remained undecided. 

More important, as regards this question of personal identity, is the 
series of sittings which formed the second stage of Mrs. Piper's trance 
history, in the years 1892-96, (of which a detailed account is given in Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 284-582, and vol. xiv. pp. 6-49), where the 
chief communicator or intermediary was G. P. This G. P., whose name 
(although, of course, well known to many persons) has been altered for 
publication into "George Pelham," was a young man of great ability, 
mainly occupied in literary pursuits. Although born an American cit- 
izen, he was a member of a noble English family. I never met him, but 
I have the good fortune to include a number of his friends among my 
own, and with several of these I have been privileged to hold intimate 
conversation on the nature of the communications which they received. 
I have thus heard of many significant utterances of G. P.'s, which are 
held too private for print ; and I have myself been present at sittings where 
G. P. manifested. For the full discussion of the evidence tending to 
prove the identity of G. P., I refer my readers to the original report in 
the Proceedings S.P.R. I quote here a general summary, given by Dr. 
Hodgson several years later, of the whole series of his manifestations. 
(From Proceedings S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 328-330.) 

On the first appearance of the communicating G. P. to Mr. Hart 
in March 1892, he gave not only his own name and that of the sitter, 
but also the names of several of their most intimate common friends, 
and referred specifically to the most important private matters connected 
with them. At the same sitting reference was made to other incidents 
unknown to the sitters, such as the account of Mrs. Pelham's taking the 
studs from the body of G. P. and giving them to Mr. Pelham to be sent 
to Mr. Hart, and the reproduction of a notable remembrance of a con- 
versation which G. P. living had with Katharine, the daughter of his most 
intimate friends, the Howards. These were primary examples of two 
kinds of knowledge concerning matters unknown to the sitters, of which 
various other instances were afterwards given; knowledge of events con- 
nected with G. P. which had occurred since his death, and knowledge 
of special memories pertaining to the G. P. personality before death. 
A week later, at the sitting of Mr. Vance, he made an appropriate inquiry 
after the sitter's son, and in reply to inquiries rightly specified that the 
sitter's son had been at college with him, and further correctly gave a 
correct description of the sitter's summer home as the place of a special 
visit. This, again, was paralleled by many later instances where ap- 
propriate inquiries were made and remembrances recalled concerning 


other personal friends of G. P. Nearly two weeks later came his most 
intimate friends, the Howards, and to these, using the voice directly, 
he showed such a fulness of private remembrance and specific knowledge 
and characteristic intellectual and emotional quality pertaining to G. P. 
that, though they had previously taken no interest in any branch of psy- 
chical research, they were unable to resist the conviction that they were 
actually conversing with their old friend G. P. And this conviction 
was strengthened by their later experiences. Not least important, at 
that time, was his anxiety about the disposal of a certain book and about 
certain specified letters which concern matters too private for publication. 
He was particularly desirous of convincing his father, who lived in Wash- 
ington, that it was indeed G. P. who was communicating, and he soon 
afterwards stated that his father had taken his photograph to be copied, 
as was the case, though Mr. Pelham had not informed even his wife of 
this fact. Later on he reproduced a series of incidents, unknown to 
the sitters, in which Mrs. Howard had been engaged in her own home. 
Later still, at a sitting with his father and mother in New York, a further 
intimate knowledge was shown of private family circumstances, and 
at the following sitting, at which his father and mother were not present, 
he gave the details of certain private actions which they had done in the 
interim. At their sitting, and at various sittings of the Howards, appro- 
priate comments were made concerning different articles presented which 
had belonged to G. P. living, or had been familiar to him; he inquired 
after other personal articles which were not presented at the sittings, 
and showed intimate and detailed recollections of incidents in connection 
with them. In points connected with the recognition of articles with 
their related associations of a personal sort, the G. P. communicating, 
so far as I know, has never failed. Nor has he failed in the recognition 
of personal friends. I may say generally that out of a large number of 
sitters who went as strangers to Mrs. Piper, the communicating G. P. 
has picked out the friends of G. P. living, precisely as the G. P. living 
might have been expected to do [thirty cases of recognition out of at least 
one hundred and fifty persons who have had sittings with Mrs. Piper 
since the first appearance of G. P., and no case of false recognition], and 
has exhibited memories in connection with these and other friends which 
are such as would naturally be associated as part of the G. P. personality, 
which certainly do not suggest in themselves that they originate other- 
wise, and which are accompanied by the emotional relations which were 
connected with such friends in the mind of G. P. living. At one of his 
early communications G. P. expressly undertook the task of rendering 
all the assistance in his power towards establishing the continued exist- 
ence of himself and other communicators, in pursuance of a promise 
of which he himself reminded me, made some two years or more before 
his death, that if he died before me and found himself "still existing," 
he would devote himself to prove the fact; and in the persistence of his 
endeavour to overcome the difficulties in communicating as far as pos- 
sible, in his constant readiness to act as amanuensis at the sittings, in the 
effect which he has produced by his counsels, — to myself as investigator, 


and to numerous other sitters and communicators, — he has, in so far 
as I can form a judgment in a problem so complex and still presenting 
so much obscurity, displayed all the keenness and pertinacity which were 
eminently characteristic of G. P. living. 

Finally the manifestations of this G. P. communicating have not 
been of a fitful and spasmodic nature, they have exhibited the marks 
of a continuous living and persistent personality, manifesting itself through 
a course of years, and showing the same characteristics of an independent 
intelligence whether friends of G. P. were present at the sittings or not. 
I learned of various cases where in my absence active assistance was ren- 
dered by G. P. to sitters who had never previously heard of him, and from 
time to time he would make brief pertinent reference to matters with 
which G. P. living was acquainted, though I was not, and sometimes 
in ways which indicated that he could to some extent see what was hap- 
pening in our world to persons in whose welfare G. P. living would have 
been specially interested. 

The sitter called Mr. Hart, to whom G. P. first manifested, died at 
Naples three years afterwards, and communicated, with the help of G. P., 
on the second day after his